More than a dozen artists sang their top hits at tonight’s One Love Manchester benefit concert, but one message was resoundingly clear: Love will always win in the end.
Early reports indicate around 50,000 people filled Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground on Sunday night in a show of support, unity and love for those affected by the May 22 Manchester terror attack and the June 3 London terror attacks. Within three hours, the event raised $2.6 million in donations to support the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, organized by Manchester City Council and the British Red Cross.
The crowd sang along to tear-jerking performances from Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Niall Horan, Pharrell Williams, Little Mix, Coldplay, The Black Eyed Peas, Take That, Robbie Williams, Marcus Mumford, Imogen Heap, Victoria Monét and others, including video messages from U2, Stevie Wonder and David Beckham.
Here are highlights from the three-hour show as it unfolded.
Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons led everyone in a brief moment of silence before kicking off the show with a beautiful performance of “Timshel.”
Next up: Take That trio Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen performed “Giants” and “Rule the World” before encouraging the crowd to “look at the sky and sing loud and proud” along to “Shine.”
Robbie Williams reunited with the lads, taking a big bow with them, before shouting “Manchester, we’re strong, we’re still singing our songs” over and over until he became almost too hoarse to speak. With his voice nearly gone, he broke out into a powerful rendition of “Angels.” Members of the crowd cheered him on as they waved pink signs with the words: “FOR OUR ANGELS.”
U2 shared a special video message, saying “There is no end to grief, that’s how we know there is no end to love.” Then Pharrell Williams walked on stage to perform Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” with Marcus Mumford on the guitar.
After his first song, Williams said: “I don’t see or smell or hear any fear in this building. All we feel here tonight is love, resilience and positivity—and you know what, I hate to be corny, but it actually makes me feel… happy.”
Cue a “Happy” duet with Miley Cyrus that brought down the house. If you weren’t crying all ready, we bet you started tearing up at this awesome show of strength and love.
Williams even revised the lyrics to include: “I should probably warn you, Manchester will be just fine.”
After the duet, Cyrus said: “I’m here for all of y’all, I’ve always loved Manchester—it’s always felt like a home away from home.” She dedicated her next song, “Inspired,” to “everyone getting back on their feet” after the recent events that rocked the country.
Next, former One Direction member Niall Horan sang “This Town” and “Slow Hands” to huge cheers. He thanked Grande for putting the show together. “I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world,” he said, “and every time I come back to Manchester, I’m just addicted to this place.” Horan reminded everyone that the world is watching: “When I see you all rallying together, what a sight to behold,” he said as he looked out into the crowd.
Ariana Grande made her triumphant return to the stage for the first time since suspending her Dangerous Woman tour. In her first appearance of many that night, she sang “Be Alright” and “Break Free” as thousands of pink streamers burst high above the crowd.
After her set, Stevie Wonder shared a video message. “I just wanted you to know that I’m with all of you in Manchester,” he said, telling everyone that “Love is truly the key.”
“I don’t care what ethnicity you are, what religion you are. Love really is way. So anyone who tries to make anyone think that things of destruction have anything to do with God or Allah—they’re a liar. Yes, I stand with you Manchester,” he concluded before singing an emotional “Love’s In Need of Love Today.”
Afterward, Little Mix, a British girl group formed after winning The X Factor, took the stage and sang “Wings”—a song they said they wrote together a few years ago in hopes that it would “empower people to stand together and not let anything bring them down.”
Grande returned at that point for a stunning duet with Victoria Monét. Together they sang “Better Days,” which they originally wrote together back in late 2016 in response to the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philandro Castile in Minnesota.
The Black Eyed Peas then joined Grande and with a roaring crowd they sang a moving rendition of “Where Is the Love.” The lyrics—”Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight”—seemed all too pertinent and reinforced an even stronger message of unity. At the end of the song, Will.i.Am said: “We will not be separated.”
As The Black Eyed Peas left the stage, Grande stayed to introduce the next artist. “She’s been my idol since I was 11 years old,” she said. Imogen Heap walked on stage and sat down at the piano to play a very soulful “Hide and Seek.” She wrote the song back in 2005 and said the lyrics were inspired by how painful it can be to lose someone.
After Heap’s tearful performance, David Beckham shared a video message. “What happened made me truly sad,” he said, sharing how proud he was of everyone who gathered at the arena for the show. He then reminded everyone that while tonight is for remembering it’s also for “celebrating the spirit of this great city.”
The crowd then got a chance to see the student choir of Greater Manchester’s Parrs Wood High School perform. Led by 12-year-old soloist Natasha Seth (someone, get this girl a record contract!), the group sang a chilling version of Ariana Grande’s “My Everything.”
Then, hand in hand, Cyrus and Grande came together to sing a powerful rendition of Crowded Houses’ “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Cyrus made a quick outfit change and was now wearing an “I Heart MCR” shirt. As the two friends swayed and danced together, the entire crowd echoed back “Hey Now” to a thunderous effect.
Grande was then joined on stage by boyfriend Mac Miller. Together they sang “The Way.” Eagle-eyed fans couldn’t help but notice a rather big sparkler on her ring finger during the song, fuelling rumours the two might be engaged. Trying to tell us something, Ari?
At the end of the song, Grande said: “Before we go any further, I want to thank you all for being together, for coming together, for being so loving, strong and unified. I think that the kind of love and unity we’re displaying is the medicine the world needs right now.” Preach.
Grande shared how she recently met the mother of Olivia Campbell, the 15-year-old concertgoer who was killed in the Manchester attack. “Olivia’s mommy told me that I should stop crying because Olivia wouldn’t have wanted me to be crying; she would have wanted to hear the hits.” She then broke into “Side To Side,” the first top-five single from her Dangerous Woman album.
Katy Perry then walked on stage and said, “It’s not always easy to choose love—especially in moments like these, it can be the most difficult thing to do. But love conquers fear and love conquers hate. And this love that you choose will give you strength.” She sang, “Part Of Me” and “Roar.”
The crowd went wild as Justin Bieber joined the stage after Perry. “What a better way to fight evil than with good,” he said. Guitar in hand, he sang, “Love Yourself” before asking everyone to chant “Love.”
The camera at one point then panned to a police officer holding hands with a group of kids as they danced in a circle together.
— Mark Savage (@mrdiscopop) June 4, 2017
“Love always wins in the end,” Bieber said, in tears, asking the crowd to raise their hands for everyone lost in the recent attacks. Fighting back his own tears, he then sang “Cold Water.”
Grande came back on stage to perform a powerful “Love Me Harder.” Then she said she had a special surprise for the audience: a video message featuring stars like Selena Gomez, Paul McCartney and The Chainsmokers saying: “We stand with Manchester.”
Then Coldplay joined Grande, and together they sang Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”
Coldplay stayed on stage to perform “Fix You” and “When I Ruled the World.” Chris Martin looked like he was fighting back tears.
Then to huge applause, Liam Gallagher made a surprise appearance—having flown in straight in from a show in Germany—to perform his new hit “Wall of Glass.” Coldplay’s Chris Martin stayed on to sing Oasis hit “Live Forever” with Gallagher. The crowd nearly lost it.
Finally, Grande was joined on stage by all the performer’s of tonight’s show. Together they sang, “One Last Time.”
To cap off the night, Grande concluded with a very emotional “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—tears were in her eyes and she started crying when she couldn’t hold them back any longer. Us too.