Less than 24 hours after a deadly terror attack in the heart of London a benefit concert by Ariana Grande and other pop stars went on as planned Sunday night in Manchester, the UK city still recovering from a suicide bombing at Grande’s show there two weeks ago.
Officials say security was bolstered for “One Love Manchester,” which aims to raise money for those affected by the bombing that killed 22 people and wounded more than 100 at Grande’s May 22 concert.
“Today’s One Love Manchester benefit concert will not only continue, but will do so with greater purpose,” said Scooter Braun, Grande’s manager, in a statement early Sunday. “We must not be afraid …”
Grande is joined by a litany of stars for the sold-out concert, including Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, Pharrell Williams, Usher and the Black Eyed Peas.
The show opened to a minute of silence and a performance by Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Suns.
Mumford urged the crowd to “not be afraid.”
‘Determined to carry on’
Some fans questioned whether Sunday’s show would go on after three men drove a van into a crowd on a London bridge Saturday night before leaping out and stabbing numerous people in nearby bars and restaurants. Seven people were killed and 48 injured in the attack.
Grande’s management answered doubts on Twitter, just hours before the concert.
“All artists involved have been unwavering in their support this morning and are determined to carry on with the show. We ask the strong city of Manchester and the world to join us in making the statement that hatred and fear will never win,” Braun said.
He went on to encourage fans to keep their concert plans, “and in tribute to all those affected here and around the world, we will bring our voices together and sing loudly,”
As details emerged of Saturday’s terror incident, Grande responded with a tweet: “Praying for London.”
As of late Sunday morning few of the other performers had tweeted in response to the London attack. But all had stated their commitment to the benefit concert in the week leading up to the show.
Manchester authorities have warned that everyone going to the concert will be searched, and the presence of armed police will be visible inside and outside the venue.
The Greater Manchester Police said more than 130,000 people were expected in the area for the benefit concert as well as a soccer match.
“There are two large-scale events taking place in Greater Manchester today and we would like to assure people that these will still take place, but with additional security in place to ensure the safety of everyone,” Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said in a statement on Sunday.
Grande’s concert was held at Emirates Old Trafford, an outdoor stadium about 3.5 miles from Manchester Arena, where the May 22 concert took place.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Superintendent Stuart Ellison said there will be a “significant number of officers” at the venue and had encouraged people to leave bags at home.
Fans still hospitalized
Grande surprised young fans injured in last month’s attack with a visit to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on Friday.
The singer shared a photo to Instagram of herself meeting with a young girl, Jaden Mann.
Jaden also shared pictures of the pop star at her bedside.
“Ariana brought everyone a sunflower and a teddy bear,” Lauren Thorpe told CNN. “It was unbelievable.”
Thorpe’s eight-year-old daughter, Lily, suffered a shrapnel wound in her back and is currently recovering from surgery.
Also on Friday, Grande met privately with some of those who lost loved ones in the May 22 attack, including parents of Martyn Hett, 29, and Courtney Boyle, 19.
‘Music will heal us’
Grande canceled upcoming shows in London and Switzerland to prepare for Sunday’s “One Love Manchester” concert.
She had just left the stage May 22 when a suicide bomber detonated a nail bomb outside the arena as people were streaming out of the venue.
Within days, the singer posted a message of defiance and announced plans to return to Manchester for the benefit show.
“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,” Grande said. “Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy. So that is what it will continue to do for us.”AlertMe