Yesterday on Sunday the 4th of June, people from across the UK united for a special benefit concert held for the victims and families and those effected by the attack at the Manchester Arena on the 22 of May. The event came just a day after the despicable terror attack that took place in London.
The show started with Marcus Mumford who hosted a minutes silence for the victims of the attacks, followed by a performance of Timshel. He then introduced Take That, who gave an energetic performance of their hits Shine, Giants, Rule The World.
They introduced ex band member Robbie Williams who came out and started singing Strong a cappella. He changed the words of his 1998 to honour the victims and send out a message of unity and love to the 50,000 in attendance, the crowd sang “Manchester we’re strong, we’re still singing our song” with him throughout. He then performed his hit Angels, which was understandably very emotional and moving. Fans were holding up signs which read “For Our Angels” in a touching tribute.
Pharrell Williams then performed his two most recent hits Get lucky and Happy, with help from Marcus Mumford and Miley Cyrus, which lifted the mood of the crowd who enjoyed the funky tunes. Cyrus then gave a short performance of her song Inspired.
Niall Horan then came on stage, the 23 year old Irishman moved the crowd with his performances of his latest tracks Slow Hands and This Town.
Then it was time for Ariana Grande’s first appearance on stage. Grande would have been forgiven for hiding away and taking time off after recent events. But two weeks after the tragedy she was back in the city to visit the victims and pay her respects, and put on a show filled with her superstar friends. She showed true bravery, heart and respect. Grande showed just how much she cares and how she dealt with adversity was ultimately extremely impressive. Grande started off her performance keeping with the key theme of solidarity, she played her well known songs Be Alright and Break Free.
Grande left the stage for a brief moment as Little Mix came on and gave a wonderful performance of their song Wings. Jade Thirlwell one of the members of the band announced to the Manchester crowd that they wrote the song “in the hopes that it would empower people to stand together and to not let anything bring them down”, a perfect song for One Love Manchester.
Ariana returned and performed Better Days with Victoria Monet. She was then joined by the Black Eyed Peas to perform the groups 2003 hit Where Is The Love, a historical song which discusses worldwide problems, sadly the song is still relevant 14 years on and it perfectly sums up our incomprehension about our world today. However, these two performing the song in this situation was remarkably powerful and echoed the message The Black Eyed Peas sought to create all those years ago.
Ariana’s idol Imogen Heap then entered the stage and graced us with her tune Hide And Seek. In a touching moment Grande’s boyfriend and talented rapper Mac Miller came out performed The Way and Dang! with Ariana. Miller left the stage and Ariana was then joined by friend Miley Cyrus to perform Don’t Dream It’s Over the 1986 single by Crowded House. Ariana told her fans “Tonight is all about love, am I right?” and there was certainly a lot of love between these two friends as they sung their hearts out for the 50,000 at The Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Then Ariana shared the details of her visits to meet the victims and their families. In a speech Ariana acknowledged that her songs to this point had been pretty slow and that the concert was meant to be a fun occasion. She spoke of a conversation with the mother of Olivia Campbell, who died during the attack, she said that Olivia would have wanted her to play her best hits and that’s exactly what Ariana did, she honoured Olivia with a rendition of Side to Side.
Katy Perry then came on to perform Part Of Me and Roar. The American superstar was wearing a dress with the faces of the victims on, in what was a subtle yet lovely tribute. Then it was time for Canadian sensation Justin Bieber, who for me produced the moment of the night. Bieber showed great maturity as he addressed the crowd talking to them about faith, love and hope. Bieber treated us to an emotional acoustic performance of Love Yourself and Cold Water. But the moment of the night came as Bieber was on the mic, at the back of the cricket ground a police officer was stood dancing and holding hands with some young fans. For many it was the moment of the night and perhaps the breaking point for some, where their emotions finally spilled out.
Grande then returned to perform Love Me Harder, before Coldplay joined her on stage. The two performed an astonishing rendition of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger, which has become an anthem of solidarity and defiance since the attacks took place. The Super Bowl 50 headliners then performed Fix You, Viva La Vida, and Something Just Like This.
Then the surprise of the night came when Oasis front man Liam Gallagher entered the stage in his trademark cagoule. The Manchester native rolled back the years with an out of this world performance of Rock And Roll Star, Wall Of Glass and Live Forever. It was fantastic to see one of Manchester’s finest ever artists take part and show his city the love it deserved and needed.
It was then time for an emotional finale. Ariana came out with the whole cast behind her, who were supporting her like they had done all night as she belted One Last Time as she was fighting back the tears. Then we were treated to one of the most beautiful performances of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, in what proved to be a real tear jerker. Ariana stood strong throughout and somehow didn’t crumble under the emotions of the event. A true professional with a big heart.
The night was a monumental success. Even for the most harshest critics in the world, it would be a tough job to say something negative about the concert. There was an extreme amount of diversity from the artists performing to those in the crowd. The concert showed that music will always unite us and that love will always prevail hate.
Ariana Grande changed many peoples perceptions of her, she was of course a pop princess but now she has transcended herself as an inspirational icon. Grande is only 23 years old, but showed the maturity of someone far beyond her age. She is still only a young woman and she’s had to endure so much these past few weeks, but she was a solace to her fans and the people of Manchester. For that she will always have a home in the UK, she will always be welcomed with open arms and she is now Manchester’s favourite adopted pop star.