On June 4th, Ariana Grande gathered some of the biggest and strongest names in music for a benefit concert in Manchester to prove to the world that love conquers hate, every single time. When a terrorist attacked her concert in the city on May 22nd and stole the lives of 22 people while injuring 119, darkness attempted to overpower the light and the love that Ariana shows her fans.
For days, the world tried to understand how to react. As with any act of violence and terror, an understanding for the event was impossible, but as more faces and stories were shown on television and social media; it seemed that a bit of hope was diminished in the hearts of everyone. Innocence and youth, love and bravery had been stolen and anyone brave enough to speak about the attack said the same things – it was the most violent and horrific thing that could have happened to a group of young people.
Ariana immediately went home to be surrounded by the love and care of her family, but she also immediately went to work, without telling the public, on a way to honor the victims and their loved ones. She didn’t want to make the attack about her, she wanted to pay her respects, alongside the rest of the world, to the sweet souls that were lost that day.
A few days after the attack, she took to social media with a statement about the attack, above love and bravery, and as an expression of her deep sorrow. She also promised that hate would not win.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 26, 2017
She also vowed to continue to create a safe space for her fans, and with that vow came a benefit show that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most poignant and emotional expressions of love that the world has ever seen.
One Love Manchester was the combined effort of musicians we all love and look up to, to stand against the hate that is so often freely passed around the world. We don’t like to say it, we don’t want to say it, but terrorism is alive and those who attack and plan and coordinate these events are the purest evil, the kind we won’t ever understand. In the face of that kind of evil, all we’ve got is love and togetherness.
When the artists were announced and the date was set, the world looked upon Ariana in awe. She is courageous and brave and the families who lost loved ones, their friends, the survivors and everyone who was impacted by the attack; they’re all so brave. While there were tears and pain present, the strength and dedication overpowered – as Pharrell said during the evening, no fear lived in Manchester, it simply didn’t exist.
The show began with the reading of a poem about Manchester’s unity, which set the tone for the evening, and was followed by Mumford and Sons kicking the evening off. Robbie Williams was next and his performance brought tears to the eyes of those in the audience, and to himself. Pharrell took the stage and, in a somber way, gave one of the most positive speeches of the evening.
‘I’m bowing because, despite all of the things that have been going on in this place, I don’t feel or smell or hear or see any fear in this building. All we feel tonight is love, resilience, and positivity.’
Miley Cyrus took the stage solo after joining Pharrell for a tune and had an inspirational message of her own.
‘For me, the most important responsibility we have on this entire planet is to take care of one another, and look at what we’re doing today and how amazing that is.’
Niall Horan was next, and he dedicated his s0ng ‘This Town’ to Manchester and those who call it their home as well. He applauded the city for coming together, saying that the world is watching and that everyone is together with them.
‘When I saw you guys rallying together last week, it was a sight to behold and it was incredible … we love you, we’re with you, all of us are with you. The whole world is watching.’
Ariana Grande took the stage next – after being introduced as the brave woman that she is, and soon after, a surprise video from Stevie Wonder was aired where he freestyled a song after reminding us all that love is the key. Little Mix followed up with one of their powerful songs, ‘Wings’, and they brought some life and spirit back to the audience.
Ariana came back to the stage with Victoria Monet for ‘Better Days’. The Black Eyed Peas joined in next for one of the most emotional performances of the night. ‘Where is the Love’ was more emotional than it’s ever been, but also fitting. It’s a powerful anthem, it speaks to those who dare to dream for a better world.
Next, Imogen Heap took the stage with one of the most beautiful voices in music before Mac Miller and Ariana joined together for a song that brought love back into the audience. Kids from Parrs Woods High School Choir took the stage next and Ariana walked out to help them sing her song ‘My Everything’ before hugging a soloist who broke down with emotion while on stage. During the song, she appeared to look at the girl and say she was ‘so sorry’ before embracing her. She made sure to hold the microphone up so that the soloist could close out the song. It was a stunning show of togetherness.
Ariana took the stage again by herself before introducing Katy Perry. Katy spoke to all of us with her short speech; to the parts of us that are still angry and confused and also to the parts that know what it truly takes to overcome this type of tragedy.
‘It’s not easy to always choose love, is it? Especially in moments like these. It can be the most difficult thing to do. But love conquers fear and love conquers hate. And that love that you choose will give you strength.’
After Katy, Justin took the stage and he was very emotional through his performances and when he spoke to the audience. He said that God is with us through the darkness and the light and he was more somber than we’ve ever seen him.
Ariana took the stage once more before inviting Coldplay to join her. Chris Martin said that this time, Manchester was going to sing for her. Starting off their set with ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, audiences at home and the crowd in attendance were full of emotion. However, that was nothing compared to when the band sang ‘Fix You’.
That specific performance of ‘Fix You’ will undeniably go down in history as the most influential and emotional performance of the tune. It left us speechless…that song was one of the most powerful of the entire evening; alongside ‘Where Is the Love’ and Ariana’s ‘One Last Time’.
Liam Gallagher took the stage next with a performance off of Oasis’ first album, ‘Rock and Roll Star’ before finishing up two other tunes and walking off stage just before 10 o’clock. For the final two songs of the night, Ariana took the stage and her emotions were at an all-time high – with good reason. The benefit was coming to an end, her heart was full, and the last songs of the night were…indescribable.
Ariana lined the stage with performers from the evening for her song ‘One Last Time’ which has taken on an entirely new meaning. She shed some tears during the song but everyone on stage was there to help her be strong. They were dancing and clapping, trying to help Ariana remain upbeat.
Most thought the show would be closed out then, but Ariana returned to the stage for an emotional rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and no one made it through with dry eyes. Ariana broke down for a moment during the song and the crowd cheered for her in the gap, their show of support gave her the strength she’d been providing for everyone all night. It was poignant, it was fitting, and it was a testament to the beauty and wonder that hold the souls that were taken that evening.
At one point in the evening, Ariana said to the audience that the love they shared tonight was what the world needed, and she couldn’t have been more correct.
‘The kind of love and unity that you’re displaying is the medicine the world really needs right now.’
The world is standing with Manchester now and forever, also with London, which was mentioned during the concert as well. Hate won’t win, compassion will, and there’s so much more of that in this world than can be measured. It’s in moments like these where we see it’s most beautiful form.
‘…but I knew him’