Barely two weeks after a bombing outside her Dangerous Woman Tour concert in Manchester, England, American singer Ariana Grande bravely returned to the British city on June 4 to hold a benefit concert for the victims and their families.
Despite the short turnaround, the #OneLoveManchester concert saw the 23-year-old singer, along with her famous friends the likes of #KatyPerry, #JustinBieber and Miley Cyrus, churn out an emotional concert that proved the power of music can indeed bring people together. Held at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground, thousands of Mancunians — as natives of Manchester are affectionately called — came out to stand united and defy terror with music, love and hope. Here are the benefit concert's top moments:
Robbie Williams Rallies Manchester To Be Strong
The British star was among the first artists to perform in the three-hour plus show. As some sections of the crowd held up "For Our Angels" signs (to acknowledge the 22 who died) it was a certainty that Williams would perform his all-time classic, "Angels." However, it was his tweaking of the lyrics to a 1999 minor hit, "Strong," that became a rallying cry for the Manchester crowd.
The original lyrics of:
"You think that I’m strong
You’re wrong you're wrong
I’ll sing my song my song my song,”
were changed to:
"Manchester, we're strong, we're strong, we're strong
We're still singing our song, our song, our song"
and the audience duly sang in unison with the ex-Take That singer.
After singing the much-anticipated "Angels," Williams concluded his set with yet another chorus of the 2017 Manchester version of "Strong."
Justin Beiber's Heartfelt Speech
In what was arguably his most understated performance to date, the Canadian pop star walked onto the stage with just a guitar, performing acoustic versions of "Love Yourself" and "Cold Water."
Most heartfelt of all were the things a tearful Beiber said in between the songs: "Don't let go of hope, don't let go of love," adding that "love always wins in the end.”
After saying a prayer for the city of Manchester, he asked the crowd to honor the people that were lost or that were taken by putting their hands in the air and saying, "We honor you. We love you."
Chris Martin Advises 'Don't Look Back In Anger'
Days after the terror attack in Manchester, a woman mourning in the city's St. Ann's Square led a local crowd in a moving sing-along of Oasis’ 1995 classic, “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”
In the One Love Manchester benefit, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin dedicated the song to Grande, saying, "You've been singing a lot for us, so we in Britain want to sing for you. This is from us to you."
As the sun set in Manchester, the British rock band continued with their hits "Fix You" and "Viva La Vida" as thousands of mobile phone lights glittered in the audience.
Katy Perry Roars
Dressed in a feathered gown, Perry may have been a tad too flamboyant but the recently coiffed short singer brought tears to many an eye as she kicked off her set with a poignant rendition of her song "Part of Me."
"Throw your sticks and your stones, throw your bombs and your blows
But you're not gonna break my soul."
At one point, Perry declared:
"Love conquers fear and love conquers hate and this love that you choose will give you strength, and it's our greatest power."
She ended the set with the empowering "Roar" that summed up the terror-defying mood of the evening.
Ariana Grande Sings Of Hope 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'
As the headliner of the benefit, kudos have to be given to Grande for her courage and efficiency in organizing this concert less than two weeks after the tragic events.
Throughout the show, the 23-year-old singer had appeared dignified and gave her fans hits such as "Be Alright," "Break Free" and "The Way," the latter she performed with American rapper and boyfriend, Mac Miller.
After singing "One Last Time" with most of her guests behind her, Grande closed the show with what was her best performance of the night, a soulful rendition of the Judy Garland classic, "Somewhere over the Rainbow," which ended with the singer and those in the audience in tears.
Defy Terror And Carry On
The benefit concert may not bring back the lives that were lost but it demonstrated that a city hit by terror is determined to carry on living without fear, turning to hope, peace and love; not just in Manchester, but everywhere else in the world that believes in living peacefully with one another.
According to Variety, the benefit concert organizers raised $2.6 million in donations over a three-hour period, contributing to the $12.9 million raised before the show on Sunday night.
Who do you think had the most standout performance of the evening?