Pop star Ariana Grande led a star-studded benefit show in Manchester, England on June 4. The One Love Manchester lineup, which consisted of Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams and the band Coldplay, joined together at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground for the event. The goal of the benefit was to raise funds for the victims of last month's suicide bombing, but the message of the show rose beyond fundraising and became an emblem of hope.
It was at Grande's May 22 show in Manchester that a terror attack rocked the city, killing 22 people and injuring over 100 more. The bombing took place just outside of the Manchester Arena following Grande's performance, catching the crowd as it spread away from the venue. Despite the trepidation that Grande, only 23 years old, surely felt about returning to Manchester, she took the stage without missing a note. In addition to the tracks from her own catalog, Grande closed the night out with a special rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" dedicated to the Manchester victims. By the end of her set, not a dry eye remained in the house.
Prior to Grande's show-stopping performance, the evening had kicked off with pointed addresses by the mayor and bishop of Manchester, as well as Grande's manager. Following a poem reading by Manchester native Tony Walsh, the first performer was Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, who rendered his band's song "Timshel" in solo. British acts Take That, Robbie Williams and Niall Horan all sequentially roused the audience into a more joyous mood. Perhaps for a moment, as Pharrell crooned on with his tune "Happy," a sense of normalcy finally returned to Manchester.
Rousing performances (such as Katy Perry's fist pumping "Roar") aside, several performers made heartfelt speeches. “God is good in the midst of the darkness. God is good in the midst of the evil. God is in the midst no matter what is happening in the world,” proclaimed Bieber. In addition to the initially billed acts at One Love Manchester, there were some surprises: following a touching performance of Manchester band Oasis's track "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Coldplay's Chris Martin, Liam Gallagher of Oasis himself took the stage unannounced. Martin and Gallagher kicked up their heels together to perform yet another Oasis track, "Live Forever," which Martin dedicated to those who had lost their lives.
On the night of June 3, 2017, miles to the south in London, England's capital, yet another terror attack had shocked the nation — and made the Manchester benefit show all the more important. In a nation that is struggling to maintain its footing against the onslaught of fear, a gathering like the one helmed by Grande brought hope to the people. Those who faced their fears and came out to the show, even knowing the risks, showed the bravery that will be crucial to England's continuance over the next few months. Security may have loomed heavily both inside and out of the cricket pitch, but inside, it was love that filled the space.