The star-studded event included performances from Liam Gallagher, Miley Cyrus and Imogen Heap
Yesterday’s One Love Manchester benefit gig was a three-hour marathon featuring performances from dozens of music stars. The gig was raising money for victims and families of the Manchester attack on June 22, which killed 22 and injured 116. Throughout, musicians including Liam Gallagher, Katy Perry and Robbie Williams gave performances that proved music’s awesome healing power – as these moments show.
When Robbie Williams took the stage, he did a joint bow with his old band Take That before starting his mini-set with an a cappella rendition of his 1999 single ‘Strong’. Adapting the lyrics, he sang: “Manchester we’re strong, we’re strong, we’re strong / We’re still singing our song, our song, our song,” as did the 60,000-strong crowd. As his voice started to crack up during his classic hit ‘Angels’, Robbie apologised, saying: “For the last chorus I need you on this one”. Manchester didn’t need telling twice.
Before a defiant Perry quite literally roared out the lyrics “you’re gonna hear me roar“, she said: “It’s not easy to always choose love, is it? Especially in moments like these. It can be the most difficult thing to do. But love conquers fear and love conquers hate. And that love that you choose will give you strength.”
3. ‘Hide & Seek’
Introducing Imogen Heap, Ariana Grande said the songwriter has “been my idol since I was 11 years old.” Heap went on to deliver a stripped-back version of her 2005 hit ‘Hide and Seek’ over a simple piano line: you could hear a pin drop.
4. ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’
Miley Cyrus and Ariana played this together two years ago for Cyrus’ ‘Happy Hippie’ non-profit. The famous friends reunited onstage to play the Crowded House power-ballad in a touching show of love and mutual support. Cyrus later told Nick Grimshaw about their friendship: “I told her I plan to make music for the rest of my life and that’s her plan too. If we can be this team until we’re old and continue to do things like this, let’s not stop today. We will always make sure we keep doing this for the rest of our lives.” She added: “I think [Ariana] finally found her real job.”
5. ‘Side To Side’
Ariana thought it would be inappropriate to play her big songs, but Charlotte Campbell, the mother of a 15-year-old Manchester attack victim Olivia, had told her: “Play the hits. Sing your heart out.”
‘Side To Side’ is one of Ariana’s biggest hits, but as Lena Dunham noted last August, it’s about “getting railed so hard you can’t walk”. Nevertheless, she played it in Olivia’s honour, providing a heart-warming – and defiant – moment. Is there a better ‘fuck you’ to ISIS than this?
6. ‘Live Forever’
In his time Liam Gallagher has compared Chris Martin to a Tweenie, a vicar and a plant pot, so a collaboration between the younger Oasis brother and Coldplay had always seemed out of the question. In fact, fans were speculating that Liam would kick off when he learnt Coldplay were covering ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ earlier in the evening.
Surprise! Liam was there too, and he worked with Coldplay to produce a beautiful Manchester moment: a crowd of 60,000 singing along to ‘Live Forever’.
7. ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’
The dreamlike final song of the night was Ariana’s cover of this Wizard of Oz song, accompanied only by smooth keys and illuminated by phone torches held aloft in the crowd. The 23-year-old’s incredible composure had many in tears.
After the attack on May 22, Grande had told her manager Scooter Braun: “If we do nothing I can’t live with that. We must do something.” And that she did: this was a dignified, unifying response to tragedy – one that showed music at its most transformative.