How do you respond to terror? Dress Liam Gallagher in an orange parka and send him onstage in front of 50,000 people, shaking maracas. The #Oasis singer was just one of the world famous artists that joined the impressive line-up for One Love Manchester, an event helmed by the incredible Ariana Grande.
Many people over a certain age had never have heard of Ariana Grande before her concert in Manchester (U.K.) on the 22nd May, when a terrorist attack claimed the lives of 22 innocent people. The 23-year old, American singer initially responded to the senseless violence with grief, suspending the rest of her UK tour and flying back to the US after Tweeting:
Within 4 days, Ariana Grande announced her intention to host a benefit concert in Manchester that would be dedicated to the victims of the attack. What followed was nothing short of magnificent.
Even days after the hugely successful charity gig, Grande is still stunning the nation with her earnest reaction to the attack on Manchester. All the proceeds from her latest single - a cover of Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg's 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' - will be dedicated to the victims of the attack.
"You Are Not Alone In This"
It all kicked off at One Love Manchester with a stirring acoustic rendition of Mumford & Sons' 'Timshel', performed by front man Marcus Mumford. The performance set a precedent of star power and poignant lyrics as the folk singer growled out "You are not alone in this". This was a powerful moment considering that many in the crowd had survived the events of Ariana Grande's initial Manchester gig.
Ticket holders from the concert on the 22nd May were offered complementary tickets to One Love. The bravery of those individuals returning to a music venue little over a week after the attack cannot be understated, especially considering that another attack had been carried out in London the night before. Mumford's choice of song spoke volumes for a country still reeling from these incidents, and for families that are still very much in mourning.
Take That then took to the stage to perform several singles, picking up the pace while maintaining a sense of lyrical profundity. The band, with their strong connection to Manchester, were the first of many nods to the city's musical heritage. Robbie Williams followed with another 'Strong' performance, tweaking the lyrics of his classics to send a message of solidarity out through Old Trafford.
"One Last Time"
The gig was a revolving door of talent that sent out messages of strength, as Pharrell Williams led onto Miley Cyrus, who then introduced Niall Horan. By the time Ariana herself came out for her first performance of the night, many who'd never even heard her music had become fans.
More enormous names in pop and rock came out to grace the stage, and the show featured a pre-recorded message by Stevie Wonder. Ariana Grande came out dancing and singing, openly crying at times. She came back out to join Chris Martin of Coldplay for a brilliant rendition of 'Don't Look Back In Anger'.
She shattered everyone's hearts by joining the harmony choir from Parrs Wood High School as they performed Grande's song 'My Everything'. When the soloist began to cry, Ariana hugged her and encouraged her to keep singing regardless.
It was an unbelievable night that could only be topped off by an appearance from Manchester musical royalty. Liam Gallagher's arrival had been teased throughout the evening, and the drawling Manc was met with uproarious approval, drawing the emotional roller coaster of a night towards a triumphant conclusion.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
By the time Ariana Grande closed out the night with a gorgeous cover of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', there was barely a dry eye in the country. It was a tour de force of the cathartic power of music, all driven by an earnest young woman that many older people had never heard of.
While many on social media dismissed the event as an empty platitude, many more accepted it as the ideal response to terror. Quintessentially British yet powered by a host of international talent. It offered a safe space and time for grief and laughter and joy, as police officers danced with young children and Liam Gallagher launched a tambourine into the crowd.
Even those dismissive of the artistic strength of the concert cannot deny what the benefit has achieved. As it occurred, the gig took over £2 million in donations. £10 million in total has been donated to the British Red Cross's fund since the attack, and Ariana Grande has re-released her single 'One Last Time', pledging all proceeds to the fund. Now, Pitchfork reports that Grande will be releasing her cover of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', again dedicating the proceedings of that single to the cause.
The singer has since issued a moving statement on Twitter:
With her remarkable reaction to the attack on Manchester, Ariana Grande united people from multiple generations, letting them cry while making them brave - raising a staggering sum of money for the victims at short notice and inviting those victims to see that they really aren't alone. She deserves more than a commendation. She deserves a place in the heart of every music-loving Briton in the world.
You can help the victims of the Manchester bombing too, by donating to the We Love MCR Emergency Fund.