Chloe O'Keeffe reviews the emotionally charged 'One Love Manchester' concert, which took place on Sunday.
Just under a fortnight after the attack outside the Manchester Arena and less than 24 hours after the attacks in London, Ariana Grande took to Manchester again in a message of unity as the headline act to ‘One Love Manchester’. The concert went off without a hitch, and it’s a credit to Ariana to have pulled something so big off with such a little time to prepare. She really and truly gave a night to remember to all at the concert and watching the live television streams.
The show as a whole was a symbol of love and unity, and many of the millions watching were emotional as we remembered the 22 lives lost, as well as those injured in the wake of the attacks over the last two weeks. Some of the biggest pop stars in the world joined forces in Manchester with Ariana for her concert as a support and fundraiser to help those affected.
'One Love' was opened by a performance of “Timshel” by Mumford and Sons lead singer Marcus Mumford. Although I wasn’t 100% sure who Marcus Mumford was until I looked it up for clarification and in turn hadn’t actually hear this Mumford & Sons track, I liked the softness it opened the concert with. In turn, it’s clear Mumford himself chose the song for a reason as the lyrics were, “But you are not alone in this… as brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand..”. In fairness, I believe everyone chose their songs for a purpose on the night and every song sang meant something.
Next up to sing on the star-studded bill was Take That, to everyone’s absolute adoration- mine included. I must say they are looking well for their age! The 3 man Manchester band opened with “Shine”, again, another great choice for the day that’s in it. It was very uplifting, especially as the crowd began to sing along, and clap their hands in the air. The song was followed by a sing-along to “Giants”. The band finished their performance with a bold showcase of “Rule the World,”.
A moving and monumental moment happened when the men of ‘Take That’ introduced their “friend & brother, Mr Robbie Williams,”. The four held hands and took a bow, and I think everyone believed for a moment there might have been a reunion. Unfortunately there wasn’t, but Robbie Williams' performance was so very moving and very emotional.
He began his performance with an acapella of the chorus of his song “Strong,” adapting the lyrics to Manchester. The crowd began to sing, “Manchester, we’re strong, we’re strong, we’re strong. We’re still singing our song, our song, our song..” with the lyrics displayed on the stage. The music began and Robbie entered the first verse of the song. Following this, Robbie launched into an equally poignant rendition of “Angels,”. I think Robbie Williams' performance was one of my personal favourites of the night; there was the strongest sense of unity as he sang the two songs.The tracksuit-clad star seemed to genuinely mean what he was singing.
A video-clip from U2, onstage in America preceded Robbie William’s performance, finishing with Bono saying, “There is no end to grief, that’s how we know there is no end to love,”.
Pharrell Williams was next on stage, launching into his 2013 hit, “Get Lucky,” followed by a beautiful duet of “Happy” with Miley Cyrus, who opened and harmonised with Pharrell throughout. Pharrell noted on how he couldn’t smell, hear or feel an ounce of fear in the atmosphere.
Pharrell then left the stage and left Miley to perform for herself. Miley looked amazing, dressed in a simple but effective outfit of shorts, knee high white boots, a basic white t-shirt and a white jacket. She noted how she had performed in Manchester several times before and commented on how she was so proud of everyone for getting back up onto their feet and dedicated her song “Inspired” to everyone.
One Direction group member, turned solo artist Niall Horan was next on stage and his performance of “Slow Hands” and “This Town” received rapturous applause from the audience. Niall dedicated “This Town” to the city of Manchester and told the onlookers, “We love you, and we’re with you,”.
An emotional Scooter Braun took to the stage with fellow organizers of the gig, British promoters Melvin Benn and Simon Moran, and began by thanking Live Nation, Manchester, the British Red Cross, the BBC, the many artists and fans and “my friend Ariana Grande”. Scooter spoke of how everyone was grateful to Ariana for her strength and for stepping up and “taking action,”. Braun then began to refer to the events of Saturday in London. He spoke of how people had a decision to come out on the evening or not, after being challenged again. “You looked fear in the face – and you’re here.” He went on to say how the bravery Manchester have upheld is the hope of the nation and that ”fear will never divide us, because on this day we all stand with Manchester.”
Ariana was introduced by her manager. He spoke of how she insisted that they needed to do something, “She’s one of the bravest people I know,” he said.
Keeping her comments to a minimum at this stage of the night, Ariana’s presence spoke voumes alone. She entered the stage in jeans and a white “One Love Manchester” jumper, followed by her backing dancers. The first song she sang was ”Be Alright,” quickly preceded by “Break Free”.
A video clip from Stevie Wonder was shown next, and Little Mix came on for a harmonized, slow version of “Wings”. Ariana then came back on stage with Victoria Monet and they performed their song “Better Days”, seated on stage in matching outfits.
Another remarkable performance at the concert was the surprise performance of “Where is the Love” by the Black Eyed Peas, with Ariana Grande filling the role of Fergie. The song was truly moving, and though I’ve said already that all the songs were chosen for a reason, this really was the song of the moment. As the song reached its end, Ariana began tearing up and was embraced by Will.i.Am.
Imogen Heap was next on stage for a performance of “Hide and Seek,”. Again, I wasn’t too familiar with Imogen but was aware of her appearance on a Taylor Swift track some time ago. Ariana introduced Imogen onstage and spoke of how she had known the lady since she was 11 years old. The two embraced before Ariana left the stage and Imogen took to the piano to play.
After this performance, the Parrs Wood High School Choir took to the stage for a version of Ariana’s “My Everything”, with help half-way through the song by Ariana herself. It was very moving and we are told that some of the children in the choir were at the first concert. The cameras flashed to people in the crowd who were weeping at this stage.
Grande then spoke about how “tonight is all about love”, and naturally introduced her own love Mac Miller onstage for their duet “The Way”. After a short solo performance from Mac, Miley Cyrus joined Ariana on stage for an acoustic version of Crowded Houses’ 1986 song “Don’t Dream It’s Over,”. It was beautiful. The friends held hands throughout the song and embraced each other and led the audience into an arm-wave during the instrumental of the song.
Ariana gave time for a small speech, thanking the crowd for the unity they have shown. She spoke about her meeting with one of the victim's mothers. Ariana spoke of how the mother had said the young girl would have wanted to "hear the hits", quickly launching into “Side to Side”.
Next from the starstudded line-up was a majestic looking Katy Perry. Katy looked wonderful in all white, wearing the faces of the victims on her dress. Before she sang, she encouraged everyone in the audience to reach to someone and tell them they love them. She sang a slowed down, acoustic “Part of Me” and then an amped up, powerful “Roar” adding to the already electric atmosphere.
Justin Bieber was quite emotional as he began to talk about fighting evil with love. He sang a solo acoustic version of “Love Yourself” accompanying himself on his own acoustic guitar. He followed this was another solo acoustic performance of “Cold Water”.
Ariana performed a solid performance of “Love Me Harder,” and this was followed by one of the stellar acts of the night Coldplay joining Grande on stage. They thanked Ariana for being “so strong and so wonderful," before launching into Oasis’ 1995 hit “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, with help from Ariana, who led the crowd in a singalong.
Their next performance was “Fix You” and again, it was an emotional one with fireworks, confetti and the amazing energy Chris Martin channelled through the stage. The band next went into “Viva la Vida” followed by their Chainsmokers collaboration, “Something Just Like This”.
There was a big secret surrounding who the closing performance was going to be. But the crowd went absolutely wild when it appeared to be Liam Gallagher- former Oasis singer. He went into a solo version of “Rock and Roll Star”, followed by his own new single ”Wall of Glass”. This section of the night was wrapped up by Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland, who came back onto the stage to play guitar to a powerful “Live Forever”.
As the concert began to come to an end, most of the performers of the evening came back on stage as Ariana thanked the audience. The performers of the evening sang along to “One Last Time”.
Ariana concluded the concert as she came to the top of the stage and gave her version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” accompanied by a solo keyboard. So far, the cause has raised over 10 million pounds for the affected families.