"If anyone here ever doubted that Manchester is the greatest city in England..."
Last night saw the official reopening of Manchester Arena after the tragic terrorist attack on the venue in May, where 22 people died after an Ariana Grande concert.
The ‘We Are Manchester’ benefit gig saw a huge line-up of artists from the city and elsewhere performing to a 14,000 sell-out crowd. Money raised from the concert is being put towards a new, permanent memorial to the victims, overseen by the Manchester Memorial Fund.
The night was hosted by the comedian Russell Kane, who has recently moved to Manchester from his home in Essex.
The night started with Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, reading the names of the 22 victims. He later posted an image of the packed crowd at the venue as an image of “What the spirit of Manchester looks like”.
He was followed by the poet Tony Walsh, otherwise known as Longfella, whose moving poem ‘This Is The Place’ was widely shared following the attack. The poet led a ‘one minute noise’ in the arena, as opposed to the traditional one minute’s silence.
Pixie Lott was the first artist to perform at the gig, singing her ballad number ‘Cry Me Out’.
The grime artist Bugzy Malone was next on the stage, having spoken to Sky News about the arena reopening earlier in the day.
The Stockport-native band Blossoms were also at the show, opening with ‘At Most A Kiss’.
They were then joined by Ian Skelly of The Coral to perform ‘Dreaming of You’.
Manchester band the Courteeners were greeted with rapturous applause when they took to the stage, with frontman Liam Fray calling Manchester, “the centre of the universe”.
A last minute addition to the lineup, Peter Kay recalled his close relationship with the venue after working there as a steward in the ‘90s. He then told the crowd, “We must not let the terrorists win.”
He then introduced headliner Noel Gallagher as “Mr Manchester himself, all the way from London.”
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds played a combination of their own tracks and Oasis classics, including ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, which became a rallying anthem in the aftermath of the attack. Chris Martin and Ariana Grande performed the track together at the ‘One Love Manchester’ concert in June.
Addressing the crowd, Noel said, “If anyone here ever doubted that Manchester is the greatest city in England… there was a minute’s silence and one girl broke the silence and started to sing and it’s amazing how everyone rallied around that song that I’m about to sing.
“It’s become some kind of anthem of defiance. And every time you sing, we win, so keep on singing.”
The full setlist from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the We Are Manchester benefit concert is below.
‘Everybody’s on the Run’
‘Lock All the Doors’
‘Half the World Away’ (Oasis cover)
‘In the Heat of the Moment’
‘Champagne Supernova’ (Oasis cover)
‘Little by Little’ (Oasis cover)
‘Wonderwall’ (Oasis cover)
‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ (Oasis cover)