MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, June 5, (Agencies): Cheers drowned out tears in Manchester on Sunday as Ariana Grande was joined by fellow music stars for a charity concert where fans vowed to face down fears of terrorism after two deadly attacks in Britain.
“Let the world hear your resilience,” Pharrell Williams told a sell-out crowd of 50,000 who had gathered to remember victims of a May 22 suicide bomb attack on Grande’s concert in the city.
The hastily-organised “One Love Manchester” event became one of the biggest single gatherings of musical talent this year, as stars lined-up for the concert dedicated to the 22 people killed and 116 injured, many of them children.
Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Take That, Liam Gallagher, and Little Mix were among those who hit the stage, as fans held “We stand together” and “For our angels” signs.
Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford opened the show after the crowd fell silent for a minute.
Less than 24 hours before the concert got underway, Britain was rocked by another terrorist attack, in central London, in which seven people were killed and 48 injured.
Grande tweeted “Praying for London” while her manager Scooter Braun said the concert would go ahead “with greater purpose”.
Fans flocked to the Old Trafford cricket ground for the show, many of them with tears rolling down their cheeks during the performances.
In one heartfelt moment, Grande was joined on stage by children from a local school, some of whom were at the targeted Manchester Arena concert, as the group performed her hit song “My Everything”.
Grande and Coldplay’s Chris Martin performed “Don’t look back in anger”, the track by Manchester Britpop band Oasis which crowds sang during vigils in the days following the bombing.
Additional security measures were put in place for the concert, with police warning that everyone would be searched.
But there was also a jovial atmosphere, as police officers and security guards danced with music fans.
Revellers dressed for the occasion, with many wearing tops featuring a bee — a symbol for Manchester — and slogans expressing their love for the city.
“We’re here to show our support to Manchester more than anything. These people aren’t going to dampen our spirits,” said 34-year-old Abdullah Mala.
His eight-year-old daughter Hannah had left the Grande concert just before the deadly bombing and said she was “happy to be back” to see some of pop’s biggest names.
Proceeds from the concert will be donated to a fund set up to help the victims’ families.
Rachel Jea, 32, said she was at Grande’s previous Manchester concert and felt it was important to attend Sunday’s show to regain trust after the bombing.
Grande, who described herself as “broken” following the May 22 bombing, had immediately returned to the US, interrupting her Dangerous Woman world tour and later promising to return for the charity concert.
On Friday the 23-year-old singer made a surprise visit to injured fans being treated at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Sunday’s concert was held on the eve of the first funeral of Manchester attack victims.
Grande closed “One Love Manchester” with an emotional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on Sunday.
Grande teased a faux finale of “One Last Time” alongside all of her musical guests towards the end of the show. However, once the other musicians exited the stage, Grande returned without a word. She simply looked up at the sky from the end of her platform, and began singing “Somewhere…” A lifelong Judy Garland fan, this was Grande’s first time performing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” onstage.
After her beautiful and understandably teary-eyed version of “The Wizard of Oz” classic, she concluded the show, telling Manchester “Thank you so much, I love you.”
She fought the urge to cry while blowing kisses to her fans as she exited the stage. Grande’s mother and brother watched from a private perch, with Frankie Grande in tears.
When Ariana sang the opening notes to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” her chosen closer at the “One Love Manchester” concert on June 4, the “Wizard of Oz” classic came as a surprise to fans — one especially, her mother.
“I didn’t know she was going to sing it,” Joan Grande tells Variety, explaining that the song had special significance for the family. “It’s an emotional story: my father passed away two and half years ago, and that was the song she sang for him after he passed.”
Ariana was very close to her grandfather, Frank Grande, who died in July 2014, and the Judy Garland staple was one of his all-time favorites. “No matter how many hit songs she had, and no matter how incredible her concerts were — and he was always the first one there, applauding, kissing her, being in the front row — after every show, he would say, ‘Ariana you know what song you have to sing? “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” And she would say, ‘Grandpa, I don’t know if that would work on a pop album.’ And he said, ‘I promise you, it’s gonna be a big hit. It’s the greatest song ever written.’”
Sunday’s “One Love Manchester” benefit concert generated $2.6 million in donations over a three-hour period for a special fund to help victims of the terrorist attack on Ariana Grande’s May 22 show, contributing to the $12.9 million raised so far, organizers said.
Viewers watching live broadcasts and streams of the star-studded event were encouraged to give to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, which was set up by the city council and the British Red Cross. Donors were able to contribute by text or online, and collectively coughed up ?2 million ($2.6 million) between the concert’s start at 7 pm and its close at 10 pm.
All net ticket proceeds from the benefit show will also go to the fund, which is dedicated to aiding families and victims of last month’s attack on the Manchester Arena. A lone suicide bomber who struck at the end of Grande’s concert killed 22 people and injured scores of others.
After the performance, Cyrus said it was a “no-brainer” when taking part in Grande’s benefit concert.
“I think what I’ve told her, too, is I plan on making music for the rest of my life, and I think that’s her plan, too. And I think if we can be this team until we’re old, continue to do things like this, let’s not stop today. I said, ‘Whatever you want to do, whether this is going to be some annual thing or what I’m going to do,’ let’s make it a plan that her and I always — if someone tells me they promise me something, I never forget. I have a memory like crazy,” Cyrus told the BBC.
“So we’re always going to make sure that we keep doing this for the rest of our lives. I think her and I have to continue to — I think she finally found her real job, you know?”
Cyrus was also featured during Pharrell Williams’ performance of “Happy.” Grande headlined the event, performing a medley of her songs over the course of the night. She closed the show with an emotional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” from “One Love Manchester” can be heard here or above.
Ariana Grande’s all-star benefit concert for victims of last month’s attack following her show in Manchester, England, has won over a critic in Piers Morgan.
The outspoken former CNN personality and current host of ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” had criticized Grande on Twitter following the attack for returning home to the US instead of visiting with victims.
Morgan tweeted during the concert that he misjudged Grande and apologized. He added, “You’re an admirable young woman & this is a magnificent night.”