“A phenomenal success”: We are Manchester unites a city
Music returned to Manchester Arena for the first time since May on Saturday, as a capacity crowd turned out for We are Manchester, a benefit concert that marked the reopening of the venue and raised funds for a memorial to the victims of 22 May’s bombing.
James Allen, general manager of the 21,000-cap. venue, says the show was a “phenomenal success and this was down to the commitment of everyone involved, from the amazing artists to the dedicated arena teams, production and emergency services.
“However, it was the people who attended on the night representing Manchester who embraced the spirit of the event, and showed the strength that Manchester has – and that the arena is truly a part of the Manchester community.”
As with Eagles of Death Metal’s return to Paris, the concert – organised by the arena’s operator, SMG Europe – opened not with a minute’s silence, but a ‘minute of noise’, conducted by poet Longfella:
— North West News (@HeartNWNews) September 9, 2017
Other performances included the Courteeners, Blossoms, Rick Astley, Bugzy Malone, Pixie Lott, comedian Peter Kay and headliner Noel Gallagher, who shed a tear before performing Oasis’s ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – a song which has become symbolic of the city’s resilience, and was performed by Coldplay and Ariana Grande at June’s One Love Manchester concert.
The arena has been closed since 22 May, when a Muslim suicide bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, detonated an improvised device outside its foyer after a show by Grande, killing 22.
Security for the reopening was provided by Showsec, with Kay – a former arena steward – wearing a yellow Showsec jacket on stage. The company describes the event as marking both a “new era for the rejuvenated Manchester Arena” and a chance for its stewards to “settle in and feel comfortable working at the venue once again”.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, appeared before the show and read out the names of all those who lost their lives in the attack. “Thank you for being who you are,” he told concertgoers. “We are Manchester, a city united. Nothing will ever change us. Nothing will ever divide us.”
“We have had to come back to show defiance, to show we are not scared and we don’t want Manchester to be scared”
Those injured in the attack, along with families who lost loved ones, were among those in attendance at the show.
Charlotte Campbell, whose 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, was killed in the attack, told the Press Association: “It feels surreal at the minute. We have had to come back to show defiance, to show we are not scared and we don’t want Manchester to be scared.
“Music was Olivia’s life. If she had been still here today she would have been walking through those doors with us, showing her defiance, that they may have got her but she’s not beaten. She’s here with us. It’s a massive mix of emotions, there will be tears, there will be laughter, but the main thing is we are here. We have proved no one is going to beat us.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.