British singer Robbie Williams dedicated his 1999 ballad “Angels” to some very special people on Friday: the 22 victims of the deadly Manchester terrorist attacks.
The 43-year-old musician, who first rose to fame in the early ’90s with the pop group Take That, was giving a concert at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester — located just a few miles down the road from the suicide bombing, which happened moments after an Ariana Grande concert.
“This next song is dedicated to all the people that tragically lost their lives last week here in Manchester,” he said before the number, concert attendee Jess Spreadbury captured on Twitter. “Sing it for them!”
Williams choked back tears throughout the tune, allowing the stadium of 50,000 singing the words out instead.
He often made attempts to fill in the words but was too tearful to do so, as seen in a Twitter video captured by BBC Sports editor Stuart Rowson and Liverpool Echo deputy executive editor David Raven.
“Emotional Robbie Williams dedicates ‘Angels’ to Manchester terror attack victims, breaks down, 50,000 finish it for him. Everyone now crying,” Raven wrote.
“[Robbie Williams] literally couldn’t sing ‘Angels’ as he stood there with tears in his eyes,” Spreadbury added. “He let his fans sing it for him! United as 1!”
Directly before that number, Williams changed the lyrics to his 1998 tune “Strong” — encouraging fans to sing along.
“Machester we’re strong / we’re strong / we’re strong / We’re still singing our song / our song / our song” the lyrics read, also seen in video posted by Rowson.
The concert was the first stop on Williams’ Heavy Entertainment Show Tour. Afterward, the singer posted a touching photo to Twitter of himself on stage — a rainbow forming over the stadium — with the simple caption “Manchester.”
Williams is expected to join his Take That bandmates on Sunday for Grande‘s “One Love Manchester” benefit concert — which aims to raise money for victims of the attack, including the over 100 people injured.
Joining them are artists like Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Niall Horan, and The Black Eyed Peas.
For the less social media-minded, the star-studded event will air on TV — the BBC playing host broadcaster in the U.K., while Freeform airs it in the U.S. (starting at 2 p.m. ET).
ABC will also show a one-hour highlight special later Sunday, following Game 2 of the NBA Finals.