Manchester Arena victims remembered as venue re-opens with charity concert
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham recited the names of the 22 who died in the bombing.
Thousands of music fans cheered the names of those killed in the Manchester Arena terror attack as the venue re-opened for the first time with a charity concert.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham spoke as the benefit gig began, reciting the names of the 22 lost in the bombing.
The 14,000 inside the arena cheered and clapped the names before he told them: “Thank you to the city for coming together.
“Thank you for being who you are. We are Manchester, a city united, nothing will ever change us, nothing will ever divide us.”
Families who lost loved ones and those injured in the terror attack three months ago were among the crowd at the sold-out gig.
Charlotte Campbell, whose daughter Olivia, 15, was among the victims, said she “had to come back as a show of defiance”.
“We have to show we are not scared and we don’t want Manchester to be scared. We are proud coming here,” she told the Sunday People.
The event was held to honour those affected by the outrage, welcome back live entertainment to the venue and raise money for a permanent memorial for the victims.
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his device in the arena foyer killing 22 and injuring scores of others at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, on May 22.
The devastated area was partly renovated and re-opened for Saturday’s event, titled We Are Manchester, to show the city will not be defeated by terrorism.
A team of trained trauma specialists and mental health professionals was on hand for anyone who needed help during the emotional re-opening event held amid heightened security.
Additional screening on entrance to the arena was in place, with no backpacks or large bags allowed inside.
After Mr Burnham’s speech a hush fell across the arena as poet Tony Walsh, who performs as Longfella, began a passionate reading of his poem This Is The Place.
He moved crowds to tears at a vigil outside Manchester town hall the day after the attack with his work, while Saturday’s recital was met with cheers and wild applause.
Stars on the bill included Pixie Lott, Noel Gallagher and his band High Flying Birds, The Courteeners and Rick Astley, while comedian Peter Kay returned to the arena where he once worked as a steward.
The Phoenix Nights star told the crowd: “I’ve played here many times, I’ve watched a lot of acts here and I’ve seen a lot of happiness and joy in this building and in this room.
“There’s been a lot of joy in this room, including the night of the twenty second of May, right up until the terrorist attack. We cannot let terrorists win. The victims will never ever be forgotten.”
Mancunian Gallagher thrilled the crowd with a string of Oasis classics before the show’s crescendo climax with Don’t Look Back in Anger.
The Oasis hit became a song of unity in the wake of the bombing after a crowd started spontaneously singing it at a memorial.
Gallagher led the singing on stage as thousands raised their voices for the Manchester anthem.
All profits raised by the gig were donated to the Manchester Memorial Fund, a charitable trust overseen by the city’s Lord Mayor to pay for the permanent memorial.