Just under two weeks after a tragic act of terror took twenty-three lives at Ariana Grande
's May 22nd Manchester concert, the pop queen returned to Manchester, accompanied by over sixteen big name artists and bands and a sold-out crowd of thousands for the One Love Manchester benefit concert. Performances by Marcus Mumford, Katy Perry
, and Coldplay
among others moved the attendees to tears and song. Organizing and hosting a benefit on such short notice and in the same city where the attacks occurred not only shows Grande's resilience and commitment to her fans but also demonstrates the importance of such bravery in the music industry in the wake of an incomprehensible demonstration of violence.
What makes the Manchester attack so repulsive, even in a time when terror attacks seem to occur with dystopian regularity is the youth and innocence of many of the victims. Pre-teens and even younger children tend to gravitate towards pop music because it hypes up the highs and commiserates with the lows that are familiar to this age group, all with the addition of a catchy chorus and a beat that makes you dance. The fact that such young fans, who make up much of Ariana Grande's following, were the target of this horrific act has added an additional layer of fear for both musicians and their followers.
Grande suspended her tour for two weeks immediately following the attack, reflecting the concerns of music lovers everywhere who were left weighing the potential risk that concerts and festivals had become. Rumors flew that events such as Boston Calling -- which are normally celebrations of music complete with an an atmosphere of warmth among festival-goers -- would be cancelled due to security concerns or suffer from low attendance from fans who just didn't want to take the chance.
Both artists and their followers, however, have shown an overall resilience and refusal to be scared away from the music that they love. Festivals such as Boston Calling and Governor's Ball drew excited crowds right on schedule, Justin Beiber's manager, Scooter Braun, stated that Bieber's European tour would not be hindered by terror, and the healing energy of One Love Manchester reached millions of viewers in addition to its massive live audience to become the most watched television event of 2017.
While some, especially parents, argue that the potential risk of a concert or festival is too high to allow their children to attend, it is incredibly important that artists such as those at One Love Manchester continue, undaunted, to perform for fans who are still as excited as ever to see them. It is incredibly sad that repetition has made it cliche to say that violence and terrorism shouldn't restrain us from the activities that make us happy, but One Love Manchester and other shows of solidarity with the Manchester victims are audible (literally) reminders that this statement is true and remains meaningful. The crowd at One Love Manchester certainly felt sadness and grief, but they also felt the rush of excited energy that a concert should produce. The performances given at Old Trafford cricket ground on Sunday night can't erase the loss and pain of May 22nd, but they can be brave proof that such abominations are not the norm. They can show young children how pop music should make crowds smile and sing along. They can stand in glittering defiance of fear to show that music isn't going anywhere.
One Love Manchester offered a time to remember the Manchester victims and to mourn for them and for the negative effects the tragedy will have on its survivors. It was also a brave statement of determination by musicians and fans to forge ahead with hope to defend the exuberant joy that pop music celebrates.