Ariana’s ‘One Love’ concert is exactly what’s needed today

Good job, Ari

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Everyone watched with full hearts as Manchester came together last week after a suicide bomber at the close of an Ariana Grande concert killed 22 people. But in the immediate aftermath, it was Grande herself who became a target for venom – "Why is it all about her?" people wanted to know, stating that the media attention should have been focused around the victims and their families.

When it was announced that she would be doing a 'One Love' concert to raise money for said victims, after visiting many of them in hospital, the trolls slowly cooled, before a new problem arose: people who had bought tickets for the concert were selling them on for hundreds of pounds more than they cost. Even at such a sensitive time, it seemed, we couldn't collectively do the decent thing.

And yet. 

If we can ignore the cheesy, Americanised music represented by the lineup Ari has chosen – Justin Bieber, Niall Horan of One Direction, Pharrell, Miley Cyrus and more – and just sit back and watch the concert as I'm doing right this very second, I think it's possible to see something quite beautiful that's coming out of 'One Love'.

Each celebrity's performance feels genuine enough to bring a tear to the eye, from Robbie Williams being overcome with emotion and left unable to sing "Angels", and Grande singing with the Parrs Wood High School choir, to Pharrell telling the crowd tonight that he didn't "feel, or smell, or hear, or see any fear in this building". 'One Love' does appear to be doing what it set out to do – bringing people together while also reflecting the general "fuck you terror" sentiment of the city after the bombing.

“One Love does appear to be doing what it set out to do, bringing people together while also reflecting the general ‘fuck you terror’ sentiment of the city after the bombing”

At a time like this it's easy to dive into platitudes, but the Mancunians are a solidly decent bunch who have shown a defiant strength of character. Just as us Brits came together today, the morning after the second terror attack in two weeks, to condemn a New York Times headline which said we were "reeling" from the attacks, so the Mancunians have banded together more locally.

They've raised thousands of pounds through campaigns such as the Manchester Tattoo Appeal, queued up in droves to donate blood, and, right this very second, as Ariana Grande is sashaying her way around a stage in a city where she witnessed what she called a "heinous" act that left her feeling "broken", a crowd of 50,000 (admittedly backed up by a tight security) are partying away at the Old Trafford cricket ground.

They look like they're loving every second – even though it's doubtless that many of them, like eight-year-old victim Lily Harrison, who was given permission by doctors to attend Grande's concert, will have been directly affected by the bombing.

Of course, we shouldn't forget those still at home grieving. The parents who struggled to get out of bed this morning because the reality of losing your child is too much. The children whose worlds have been torn apart. And we should also be gracious enough to recognise our privilege – we live in a part of the world where incidents like this are rare.

But music has always been objectively healing. It's why Rock Against Racism concerts were so successful in the 1970s and 80s, it's why babies are sung to sleep, and it's why that one song manages to evoke memories of a specific moment time and time again.

So, as Ari closes the concert tonight with an expected rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", I hope that the memory those affected by the Manchester attack will carry with that song is one of defiance, love and maybe a little sadness, rather than fear and literal terror.

Watch the 'One Love' concert here and donate to Red Cross to support Manchester victims here

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