With the anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack coming up, we believe it’s only fitting to reflect on the tragedy that affected friends, families, communities and gig-goers alike. Remembering the 22 people who lost their lives that night.
Before I go any further, I’d like to mention the We Love Manchester Memorial Fund. It’s an emergency fund in partnership with the British Red Cross that supports those affected by the attack and their families. I’m going to attach a link to their page here if anyone’s interested in making a donation to the charity.
I’m not alone in saying what happened on the 22nd of May shook the nation. Many of us have attended gigs at the arena, some of us even knew people attending that night. To know so many people, especially children, were attending, made the ordeal so much worse.
Gigs are meant to be a safe haven for us to lose ourselves for a few hours, to forget our problems from the outside world and enjoy artists who’ve brought us so much happiness. To know that the night was meant to bring so much joy to thousands, but instead brought so much sorrow, is heartwrenching.
However, in true Manc fashion, the city didn’t take what had happened lying down. Many people continued amongst their day-to-day lives. It never felt as if people were ignoring what had happened, but instead carried on, as a middle finger to the coward who attempted to make us cower away in terror.
Manchester had united together. A memorial began outside the Town Hall before moving to Saint Ann’s Square. The area quickly turned into a sea of balloons, teddy bears, flowers, handwritten cards, and candles.
While tributes were being held, Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow started the impromptu sing along to ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger.’ Before too long it became so much more than just a song written by Noel Gallagher. It became a symbol of Manchester’s spirit, a sign of the city’s resilience against such terror.
The following Saturday saw Courteeners play their biggest gig to date at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Frontman Liam Fray took to the stage prior to beginning their set. Standing alone he recited ‘Our Manchester.’ A poem written by fellow Manciuan, Ryan Williams. Check out the video below.
Credit – Souponherhed
Having attended the gig, we’d have reason to believe security would be on high alert due to what had happened, right? And granted, there were a lot more armed police arena the venue itself. But going in wasn’t as to be expected, as neither I or my friend got searched while entering the venue, along with those around us.
I knew I had nothing on me and the same for my friend. But you can never be certain of those around you. It would’ve been a lot more comforting knowing every single person had been searched, even if that meant it would take even longer going into the venue itself.
The week after saw Manchester stand together during ‘One Love Manchester.’ A benefit concert put together by Ariana Grande herself. Taking place at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, the televised event saw host to a number of celebrities from Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Liam Gallagher and of course, Ariana Grande.
The tributes, however, didn’t stop there. Liam Fray dedicated ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ during Courteeners Old Trafford gig. Along with Noel Gallagher who did the same during the arena’s reopening. Liam Gallagher donated all proceeds from his ticket sale from his solo debut gig to the charity and dedicated ‘Live Forever’ to the 22.
A year on it’s clear to see security is still incredibly strict when regarding gigs in Manchester. The arena itself has metal dedicators, police dogs and police on the scene whenever an event is being held. Other venues around town such as Manchester Academy conduct bag searches and pat downs, with security guards having handheld metal detectors.
But further afield the security around gigs has definitely relaxed. Smaller venues only conducting bag searches, with the likes of larger venues such as First Direct Arena in Leeds still following similar procedures as in Manchester.
It could be argued that it’s a good thing venues are now relaxed, that we have no reason to worry anymore. While many agree they’d rather security still be strict to put any worries to rest, knowing waiting longer due to security checks is beneficial for everyone.
Manchester will be holding several events over the following week as a remembrance. With a televised sing-along being held at Albert Square from 7 pm to 9 pm on the 22nd of May. You can click here to see the full list of events.
Reflecting on the night overall, I’d like to thank all the service men and women who tried their very best to save everyone that night. The general public who arrived on the scene or in the surrounding areas to help those who were stranded, opening up their homes for the night. The hotels that took people in, takeaways that gave out food and drink, the taxi’s that provided free journeys home. To see so much humanity in a time of such inhumanity was so comforting. And makes me proud to call Manchester my home.