Manchester Arena victims remembered as venue re-opens

Emotional ‘We are Manchester’ benefit concert surrounded by heightened security

 

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 are among the crowd at the sold-out gig.

The event is 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 foyer of the venue killing 22 and injuring scores of others at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, on May 22nd.

Pixie Lott performs during the We Are Manchester benefit benefit show, amid heightened security at the re-opening of the Manchester arena on Saturday night for the first time since the terror attack in May. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Pixie Lott performs during the We Are Manchester benefit benefit show, amid heightened security at the re-opening of the Manchester arena on Saturday night for the first time since the terror attack in May. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The devastated area has been partly renovated and re-opened for Saturday’s event, titled We Are Manchester, to show the city will not be defeated by terrorism.

Emotional re-opening

A team of trained trauma specialists and mental health professionals is on hand for anyone who needs help during the emotional re-opening event held amid heightened security.

Additional screening on entrance to the arena is in place, with no backpacks or large bags allowed inside.

After a pre-show DJ set from Clint Boon and 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.

Saturday’s recital, an ode to the city celebrating its achievements and spirit, was met with cheers and wild applause.

He said: “Tonight’s going to be a very special and emotional event.”

The night’s music entertainment began with a set from Pixie Lott.

Later comedian Peter Kay will introduce headline act Noel Gallagher and his band High Flying Birds, the Phoenix Nights star returning to the arena where he once worked as a steward.

The line-up also includes performances by The Courteeners, Blossoms and Rick Astley along with sets from Bugzy Malone, and Nadine Coyle.

All profits raised will go to the Manchester Memorial Fund, a charitable trust overseen by the city’s lord mayor to pay for the permanent memorial.