Less than two weeks after her concert was struck by a suicide bomber in Manchester, singer Ariana Grande took center stage in the city again to deafening cheers at her One Love Manchester benefit concert Sunday evening for those affected by the attack.
An hour into the sold-out show – after the likes of Pharrell Williams, Take That, Miley Cyrus, and Robbie Williams had already performed – Grande lit up the crowd at Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground with a rousing rendition of her song “Be Alright.” She and her dancers clasped hands in an unbroken line on stage before the song began, in a show of unity.
The energetic performance by a smiling, joyful Grande electrified an outdoor audience estimated at 50,000. About 14,000 tickets were reserved for those who had attended the May 22 concert at the Manchester Arena, where 22 people were killed and scores more injured by a lone suicide attacker.
“One Love Manchester, let’s go, we love you so much!” Grande said as the song ended and pink streamers rained down on a sea of fans.
Later, after singing Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” with Cyrus, Grande thanked the crowd.
“I want to thank you so much for coming together, and being so lovely….I think that the kind of love, the unity that you’re displaying is the medicine that the world really needs right now. So I want to thank you for being just that,” she said. “I love you so much. Thank you.”
Grande was introduced onstage by her manager, Scooter Braun, who spoke alongside event producers Melvin Benn and Simon Moran. Braun thanked “all the world-class artists who journeyed here on such short notice to join us here today,” and expressed his appreciation of those in the crowd who were first responders after the bombing at the Manchester Arena, people “who risked their lives to save others.”
Braun was quick on Sunday to issue a public assurance that the concert would go on in spite of Saturday night’s terror attack on London Bridge and Borough Market in the British capital, in which seven people were killed.
“Last night this nation was challenged and all of us were challenged, and you had a decision to make if you were going to come out here tonight,” he told those gathered in Old Trafford. “And this is so beautiful – you guys made that decision, you looked fear right in the face and said, ‘No, we are Manchester, and the world is watching.’”
He recounted his visit to a hospital where victims of the Manchester Arena bombing were recovering, including a teenager named Adam whose friend was among those who died. “Just as I was about to leave the room, Adam looked at me and said, ‘Hey, Scooter, make sure you tell them: ‘Don’t go forward in anger. Love spreads.’ Adam, if you’re watching, you’re our hero tonight.”
Added Braun: “This tragedy has made us all throw away our divides, our differences, our politics, our adult nature and look to our children. Manchester, your bravery is our hope.”