In what was certain to be an emotional evening, Ariana Grande returned to Manchester to headline One Love Manchester, a benefit and tribute to those affected by the suicide attack that took the lives of 22 at the end of her concert in the city less than two weeks ago.
Around 50,000 people attended the event at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Sunday night, with all proceeds going to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund set up by Manchester City Council in partnership with the British Red Cross and some 14,000 of those tickets were reserved for people who attended the Grande concert on May 22.
Grande led the show, which featured a stellar line-up including Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, Pharrell, Coldplay, Take That and Miley Cyrus, with a powerful display of unity and love in defiance to not only the Manchester attack but also last night’s brutal terror attack in London Bridge, which left seven dead.
An emotional Grande, who mostly kept it more about the music, did have a brief comment for the audience when she thanked everyone for “coming together and being so loving and strong and unified.”
She said: “I love you guys so much and I think that the kind of love and unity you’re displaying is the medicine the world really needs now so I want to thank you for being just that and I want to thank you for coming tonight.”
Grande added that she met with the mother of Olivia Campbell, one of the young people killed in the suicide bombing, shortly before the concert and her mother had told her that “Olivia would have wanted to hear the hits,” which caused them to change up the whole show at the rehearsal yesterday. “We changed everything,” laughed Grande. “And this evening has been so filled with light and love and bright energy and I want to thank you for that.”
Every artist had an emotional message for the audience, with common threads of togetherness and love prevailing in each one. The three-hour extravaganza, which early reports suggest raised £2M ($2.6M), opened with a performance from Marcus Mumford, who kicked off the show asking for a minute of silence for the victims of events in Manchester and London before telling the crowd “let’s not be afraid” and launching into his song Timshel.
Grande and Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun told the crowd: “Last night this nation was challenged. All of you were challenged and you had to make a decision if you would come out here tonight and this is so beautiful. You guys made that decision and you said no, we are Manchester and we are not afraid and the world is watching…This tragedy has made us throw away our divides, our differences, our politics, our adult nature and look to our children. Manchester, your bravery is our hope.”
Highlights included an emotional performance of Grande’s song My Everything from local Parrs Wood High School choir, Coldplay’s rendition of famed Manchester rock band Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger and a surprize guest appearance from Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher who sang Live Forever with Coldplay’s Chris Martin on guitar.
Emotional speeches from Cyrus, Perry and Bieber and others peppered the entire evening.
“For me, the most important responsibility we have on this entire planet is to take care of one another,” said Cyrus. “And look at what we’re doing today and how amazing that is.”
Cyrus dedicated her new song Inspired “to all the people who have been affected by this tragic event. [To] everyone getting back on their feet, I’m so proud of you.”
Perry, whose performance included Roar, said, “Love conquers fear and love conquers hate…choose love even when it’s difficult.”
Bieber told the crowd, “You guys are so brave…what an amazing thing we are doing tonight…Would you agree that love always wins?” before taking a moment to honor all the people who passed away in the tragedy.
Grande wrapped up the event with a moving performance of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, which brought her to tears.