x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Manchester bombing: How tragedy turned Ariana Grande into an honorary Mancunian

The American pop star had just finished performing when a bomb exploded at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 innocent people

Ariana Grande has a huge teenage fanbase, many of whom came to see her perform at the Manchester Arena. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for iHeartMedia / AFP
Ariana Grande has a huge teenage fanbase, many of whom came to see her perform at the Manchester Arena. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for iHeartMedia / AFP

Arianna Grande sealed a unique bond not just with her teenage fanbase but the city of Manchester at large just a few hours after the suicide bomb attack on her concert.

The next morning, she responded on Twitter saying she was “broken”. Grande cancelled her other two shows in the UK and returned home to America. Her management later issued a statement explaining Grande needed time to “assess the situation and pay proper respects to those lost”. Within two weeks she was back in the city.

In the days that followed, Manchester came together as a community to take stock of what had happened and mourn its dead. The bomber’s identity was revealed as Libyan-born Salman Abedi and the 22 victims were named, the youngest, Saffie Rose Roussos, was just eight years old.

Aside from a few Islamophobic internet trolls, Mancunians of all races and religions united to show the world their city was unbreakable. A video, which captured the moment when a crowd spontaneously began singing Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger after a minute’s silence for the victims, embodied the spirit of the community, who refused to be divided by the cowardly attack.

_______________

Read more:

Manchester Arena reopens with defiant show against terror attacks

Qatar-backed Islamist and the Manchester bomber’s father

_______________

Meanwhile in America, Grande, 23, who had been criticised by members of the British press for leaving the city after the attack, was coming up with a way to help those who had been affected by the attack.

Four days after the bombing, the singer announced she was organising a benefit concert to raise money for the victims and their families and had invited several “friends and musicians” to join her.

In a letter shared on Twitter, Grande wrote: “Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”

The explosion went off near the end of the concert. Dave Thompson/ Getty Images
The explosion went off near the end of the concert. Dave Thompson/ Getty Images

The One Love Manchester concert, as it was called, took place on June 4 with tickets selling out in less than six minutes of going on sale. Grande was joined by a plethora of stars including Take That, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Coldplay in the gig, which was broadcast live in at least 50 countries across the world.

Before taking to the stage at the Emirates Old Trafford, Grande visited fans who had been injured in hospital, including 10-year-old Jaden Farrell-Mann, who suffered fractures to both legs and shrapnel wounds when the bomb exploded.

Her father, Peter Mann, was one of a few parents who shared images of Ariana with their children from the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital where some of those injured were being treated.

"So happy she came I could burst! Never seen Jaden so happy! Even cried again myself," Mr Mann tweeting, sharing a picture of Grande hugging his daughter.

Grande also met families of the victims, including the father and brother of eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, whose mother suffered severe injuries from the blast.

Saffie’s father Peter Roussos, recalled the moment he met Grande to the BBC: "I wanted to tell her what she meant to Saffie. I wanted to tell her from a father's point of view that she's got nothing to be sorry for... It wasn't her fault.

"All she could say to me was, 'I'm sorry', and I said, 'You've got nothing to be sorry for. You made Saffie so happy with what you do'.

One Love Manchester took place the day after the terrorist attack on London Bridge under tightened security. People who had been at the original concert were eligible for free tickets and many of them faced their fears to attend. The total amount raised for the concert and subsequent live donations totalled over £17 million (Dh82.5m).

Ariana Grande organised the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the families of the victims of the Manchester terror attack at Emirates Old Trafford. Pictured performing with Miley Cyrus. Dave Hogan/ One Love Manchester / AFP Photo
Ariana Grande organised the One Love Manchester benefit concert for the families of the victims of the Manchester terror attack at Emirates Old Trafford. Pictured performing with Miley Cyrus. Dave Hogan/ One Love Manchester / AFP Photo

It was Grande’s resilience and determination to return to the city that won the hearts of Mancunians who had previously not followed her musical career. In recognition of her organisation of the One Love concert, Grande was made the first ever honorary citizen of Manchester in July.

Councillors at meeting in the city’s town hall unanimously passed the motion, put forward by council leader Sir Richard Leese.

Sir Richard described the singer as “a young American woman for whom it would have been understandable if she never wanted to see this place again”.

“But no - instead she, as an artist, a performer, was determined that she would not perform again until she had returned to Manchester to perform.”

The meeting, which was attended by family members of some of the victims, finished with an instrumental version of Don’t Look Back in Anger, while weeping was heard from the public gallery.

Responding to the news on Instagram, Grande wrote: "I don't know what to say. Words don't suffice.

"I'm moved and honoured. My heart is very much still there. I love you. Thank you."