Ariana Grande tears up during Manchester benefit concert finale — plus 11 other highlights from the stunning show
Just about two weeks after a bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, left 22 dead and 119 injured, the “Dangerous Woman” singer returned to the U.K. city to hold a concert benefiting victims of the attack — bringing a roster of famous friends (ranging from Justin Bieber to Katy Perry) along with her.
U.K. native Marcus Mumford and his band Mumford & Sons opened the show — held at Emirates Old Trafford, an outdoor cricket ground — by asking the crowd of thousands to stand up and have a moment of silence for those lost in the recent attacks. “Let’s not be afraid,” he said before launching into a solo, acoustic version of Sigh No More track “Timshel.” With lyrics like “And you are not alone in this / Together, we will stand and we’ll hold your hand,” the 2009 song gently united the crowd for what was about to be an emotional, invigorating show.
Grande made plenty of appearances throughout the night, teaming up with acts like Miley Cyrus for “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and the Black Eyed Peas for “Where Is the Love?” At one point, she thanked the crowd for coming out and talked about meeting the mother of one young victim, Olivia.
“As soon as I met her, I started crying, and I gave her a big hug,” Grande recalled. “And she said that I should stop crying because Olivia wouldn’t have wanted me to cry. And then she told me that Olivia would have wanted to hear the hits,” she said, laughing, revealing that led to them changing the setup of the show at the last minute. “I love you guys so much. Are you all ready to have some fun?”
Ahead, check out 11 more highlights from One Love Manchester.
Robbie Williams changes up the lyrics to “Strong”
The original lyrics to 1999 song “Strong” are “You think that I’m strong / You’re wrong / I’ll sing my song,” but Williams updated it for the event, leading the crowd in a sing-along of, “Manchester, we’re strong / We’re strong / We’re still singing our songs.” After performing “Angels,” Williams then brought back the revised “Strong” refrain to conclude his set.
Bono sends a message to Manchester
Although U2 weren’t physically at the show, the group made an appearance in the televised special: Frontman Bono delivered a heartfelt message to the city via footage shot from a different stage. “We’re broken-hearted for parents who lost their children and children who lost their parents in a senseless, senseless horror,” he said. “There is no end to grief, that’s how we know there’s no end to love. It’s a thought we’re holding onto for these people. We’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky.”
Pharrell Williams and Miley Cyrus get “Happy”
The show was full of sweetly earnest moments, including when Williams introduced his performance with Cyrus. “You know I’m bowing because, despite all the things that have been going on in this place, I don’t feel or smell or hear or see any fear in this building,” he said. “All we feel here tonight is love. Resilience, positivity, and you know what? I hate to be corny, but it actually makes me…” The “Malibu” singer then joined him for a radiant rendition of “Happy,” which included Williams changing some lyrics from “I should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine” to “I should probably warn you, Manchester will be just fine.”
Scooter Braun shouts out a 15-year-old victim
Grande’s manager Scooter Braun applauded the audience for coming out to the show, especially after an attack in London the night before left seven dead. “You looked fear right in the face, and you said, no, we are Manchester, and the world is watching,” he said.
He then shared a story about going to the Manchester children’s hospital with Grande, where he met a 15-year-old named Adam who lost his best friend, Olivia, in the bombing, and who was injured himself. Braun and Grande talked with the teenager when he got out of surgery, and that’s when Adam asked Braun to tell Manchester something at the concert: “Don’t go forward in anger — love spreads.”
“Adam, if you’re watching,” Braun added, “you’re our hero tonight.”
Ariana Grande makes her entrance
Braun introduced Grande by calling her “one of the bravest people” he knows.” The singer, clad in a baggy sweatshirt reading “One Love Manchester,” came out soon after to perform “Be Alright” and “Break Free,” two strong song choices that showed this wasn’t about to be a concert about defeat, but one about hope.
A high school choir takes the spotlight
The Parrs Wood High School choir might have been the least famous act on the roster, but their talent made them instant stars. The group of students sang a beautiful cover of Grande’s “My Everything,” with the singer herself eventually joining in to finish out the song — and to embrace 12-year-old Natasha Seth, an impressive soloist who held back her tears for the song’s first half before eventually breaking down once Grande came out.
Katy Perry roars
The “Swish Swish” singer kicked off her set with a poignant performance of “Part of Me” that elicited tears from the audience and followed it up with “Roar,” an empowerment anthem that perfectly fit in with the positive vibes of the night.
Justin Bieber tears up
Bieber most recently made headlines because of a silly, botched performance of Spanish-language hit “Despacito,” but the “Sorry” singer was on his best behavior Sunday: He started off his set by saying, “You guys are so brave. What an amazing thing we’re doing tonight, would you not agree? Would you agree that love always wins?” Right before his acoustic performance of “Cold Water,” he encouraged the crowd to chant “Love” and then continued to pay tribute to the attack’s victims in a sincere, tearful speech. “I just want to take this moment to honor the people that were lost or that were taken,” he said. “We love you so much. To the families, we love you so much.”
Chris Martin leads “Don’t Look Back in Anger”
Just days after the attack, one woman led a Manchester crowd in a stirring sing-along of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” — and the Coldplay frontman did a repeat at the show, where he and the audience gathered together to sing the 1995 song while Grande stood nearby, pointing her mic to the audience to amplify their voices. The band also played some of their own hits, including the rousing “Fix You” and a giddy “Viva La Vida.”
Liam Gallagher shows up
The concert didn’t just feature an Oasis song: It also featured an Oasis member. Liam Gallagher, who was born in Manchester, made a surprise appearance at the show to perform the band’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” solo track “Wall of Glass,” and then another Oasis song, “Live Forever.” Soon before he boarded the stage, audio of Muhammad Ali played over the speakers. “He wants to know how do we treat each other, how do we help each other,” Ali says in the speech. “So I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people. We need somebody in the world to help us all make peace. So when I die, if there’s a heaven, I want to see it.”
Everyone boards the stage for “One Last Time”
Grande got plenty of support for her penultimate song, “One Last Time.” Most of the evening’s performers stood in a line behind Grande as she belted the 2014 song. Niall Horan and Perry linked arms and grinned as they bopped along, while Cyrus and Imogen Heap danced side by side. Mac Miller, Grande’s boyfriend who performed “The Way” with her earlier in the night, and Pharrell stood mostly still, intently watching Grande. At the song’s conclusion, she broke down in tears and then hugged some of her guests before they all left the stage, leaving her alone to sing a phenomenal version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that showed off her vocals and ended with the singer crying into her ponytail. “Thank you so much,” she said, blowing kisses. “I love you.”
Donate to the Manchester Emergency Fund via the One Love Manchester website here.