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Green Day explain why they played Spanish festival after acrobat’s death

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong © PA Images

Shortly before Green Day headlined Spain’s Mad Cool Festival on Friday night (7th July), acrobat Pedro Aunión Monroy fell 100 feet to his death while attempting a between-sets stunt.

After a 30-minute delay, Green Day took to the stage and played a two-and-a-half hour set in front of the 45,000 crowd – prompting many to question why the set went ahead as planned.

Echoing tweets the band made in the immediate aftermath of their set, Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong has released a heartfelt statement explaining the trio didn’t know about Pedro’s death until after their performance.

Billie Joe also maintained that if Green Day had known about the fatal incident, they “most likely would not have played at all. We are not heartless people.”

His full statement reads:

“Last night at the Mad Cool festival in Spain there was a horrific accident. An acrobat by the name of Pedro was killed during his performance before Green Day played our show. We are so sad for Pedro and his family and we pray for them in this time of grief. I can't imagine how much suffering the friends and family are going through. Many of you are wondering why we continued to play our show after the accident. Green Day did not hear about the accident until after our show was over. We didn't even know there was an acrobat performance at all. these festivals are huge. There are so many things happening at the same time it's impossible to keep up with every performer/artist.. We were in a back stage compound about a half mile away from the main festival stage. We were warming up ready to go at 11:25 pm. 15 minutes prior our tour management was told by local authorities to wait to go on stage because there was some sort of security issue. Security issues are a normal occurrence and procedure at any show.. we were NOT told why which is also normal. we waited as we were instructed. Still, We had no clue there was any such accident. We were given the ok. The band jumped into vans and drove to the main festival stage. This was to be the last show of our European tour and we were all so excited to play our hearts out one last time. We were on stage at around midnight and played around two and a half hours. Everything seemed normal. the crowd and fans had a good time. We got off stage and drove back to our artist compound. It was there when we were told the shocking news about Pedro. All of us were in disbelief. I don't know why the authorities chose not to tell us about the accident before our concert. All we know is what was said after our concert. This has never happened in the 30 years Green Day have been performing live. If we had known prior to our performance we most likely would not have played at all. We are not heartless people. The safety and well being at any of our concerts absolutely comes first. What happened to Pedro is unthinkable. Once again we are heartbroken for his friends and family.

“We are also shocked and heartbroken for anyone that had to witness this tragedy. Sincerely, Billie Joe Armstrong”

Facing criticism for pressing ahead with Green Day’s set, Mad Cool Festival has also released a statement defending their decision. It reads:

We, the festival management, would like to publicly express our absolute grief and desolation regarding the incident that happened yesterday while choreographer, dancer and workmate Pedro Aunión was performing. We would like to express our love and support to all his family and friends at this hard and devastating time.

With regard to the festival´s response in the aftermath of the incident:

1) In order to preserve the privacy of Pedro´s family, there were no statements made nor was his identity revealed without the family´s prior knowledge. We ask that the press respect the privacy of Pedro´s family and they are allowed to grieve. We hope that will we joined in making this a priority.

2) The decision to not stop the festival immediately was made between the state and local security forces as well as our security management.

3) Mad Cool Festival complied with all the corresponding security measures that are mandatory for the audience, artists and workers at festivals and was prepared for all eventualities. In this situation it was officially deemed unsafe to have a large mass of people moving all at once, with the possibility of violent reactions, due to a sudden cancelation of an event of 45,000 people. The safety and security of the fans at the festival was of the highest order and it was not compromised.

4) Throughout the night and today we worked together in a coordinated way with the healthcare professionals present at the event, as well as the emergency services of the city council and security team. A psychological unit was made available to the family.

5) Mad Cool, would like to honour Pedro in the most respectful way and always with the consent of his family.

6) We believe music and culture are a life celebration, therefore the festival will continue in order that we can pay tribute to all the artists that work everyday showing their talent in front of admiring and appreciative audiences. Pedro was a person totally committed to art, he deserves all our respect and admiration and we strive to ensure this.

7) Mad Cool would officially like to thank the audience for their kindness and support, the security forces and emergency services who worked so hard to keep everyone safe and we offer our gratitude and affection to all at this hard time.

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