Surreal scenes as pianist calmly plays ‘Eternal Flame’ while anti-curfew riots escalate behind him

3 November 2020, 10:55 | Updated: 5 November 2020, 11:50

Peter Geddes plays piano as Barcelona riots unfold
Peter Geddes plays piano as Barcelona riots unfold. Picture: Twitter/Josef Ajram Tares

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Amid the bangs and wailing sirens of Barcelona’s protests against the coronavirus curfew, a solo pianist plays.

In times of unrest, music often has a powerful presence. Over the last 24 hours, footage of a pianist playing ‘Eternal Flame’ while riots unfold in the background has gone viral on social media.

Barcelona’s protests began over the weekend when the Spanish government implemented a nationwide curfew in an attempt to gain control of the coronavirus and declared a six-month state of emergency.

Author and radio host, Ciara King, shared a video in which busker Peter William Geddes plays his electric keyboard amid the city’s riots.

“Curfew in Barcelona last night,” King wrote on Twitter. “The juxtaposition of the man on the piano playing ‘Eternal Flame’ by The Bangles and the scene unfolding behind them is quite something.”

As the music plays, chaos ensues in the background. Explosions and sirens are going off, as some people appear to be running away from police vehicles, while one man throws a missile at one of the vans (watch below).

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Street pianist plays The Bangles' Eternal Flame as Barcelona riot unfolds right behind him

There also appears to be something on fire, directly behind where Geddes is playing. But always, in the foreground, gentle music plays.

According to the Guardian, Geddes said that as the riots escalated, with the music playing he only felt peaceful: “When I play, I am very calm. No nerves.”

Geddes has been taking his electric piano all around Barcelona during lockdown, bringing pop and film covers to the quiet streets.

Over the weekend, further anti-curfew protests in Madrid, Valencia and Málaga saw shop windows smashed and bins being torched. The country’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez has since called for an end to the “violent and irrational behaviour”.

In Spain, residents are now required to remain in their homes between 11pm and 6am. Local authorities are also limiting travel between regions under new lockdown rules.