‘We will not be defeated’ – Manchester music industry responds to Arena attack

Musicians, venues and promoters say fear and hate
won't stop them following the terror attack at Ariana Grande’s Manchester gig

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Manchester’s music industry is refusing to be cowed by fear following the terror attack at Manchester Arena on Monday night (22 May). Some 22 were killed and scores more injured following Ariana Grande’s live show but, with the exception of scheduled shows at the Arena itself, gigs are continuing as normal.

Salman Abedi’s bomb exploded in the public foyer of Manchester Arena. Arena staff have announced on Twitter that the scheduled Take That concerts for Thursday (25 May), Friday (26 May) and Saturday (27 May) would be postponed but all other gigs appear to be continuing as normal.

SJM Concerts, leading tour promoter in the city, has confirmed the Courteeners show at Emirates Old Trafford on Saturday (27 May) will go ahead as planned, adding that it may be “just what the city needs right now”.

The Manchester band’s frontman Liam Fray told fans not to “bow their heads” but to “look up at the skies”. Speaking on Tuesday he said: “Togetherness, community and spirit course through the veins and flood the streets of this city. I’ve seen it every day since I’ve been old enough to realise what compassion and empathy are.

“Last night we witnessed it at a level we thought we’d never have to. In tragic circumstances, Manchester stood together, because that’s what we do. Homes offered, rides home given, an outpouring of love. Grief shared.”

“This concert may just be what the city needs right now”

A spokesperson for SJM said: “Like the rest of the live music industry, we are extremely saddened by the attack on the public of Manchester at a pop concert and send heartfelt condolences to the thousands that will be affected by the mindless and cowardly act of Monday night.”

The spokesperson went on to reassure fans that it is working with the statutory authorities, police, medics and venues to continually update safety procedures.

“We, along with the rest of the Safety Advisory Group, are confident the relevant safety and security checks will be in place on Saturday at Emirates Old Trafford for a safe and enjoyable concert. With 50,000 music fans embracing the legendary spirit of Manchester music we feel this concert may just be what the city needs right now.”

Given that nerves will be heightened however, SJM asked that fans don’t bring any form of pyro to the gig – something the “vocal, demonstrative and passionate” Courteeners fans have celebrated with at the band’s live shows before.

Lancashire Cricket Club also requested that fans do not bring bags. A spokesperson said: “We would advise customers to allow extra time for travel and additional security checks at the stadium. Everyone entering the venue will be searched, and people are asked to not bring bags with them.”

Live venues Gorilla, Albert Hall and the Deaf Institute released a joint statement confirming that all live shows are going ahead as planned.

Dot to Dot, a multi-venue festival in the city this weekend, said: “In solidarity with the resilience of the amazing people of Manchester and the power of live music, Dot to Dot Festival will be going ahead this Friday.

“Dot to Dot is a festival about bringing people together and enjoying a day out watching live music. We have taken stock and thought deeply about whether it’s appropriate for us to go ahead in the light of what’s happened – and we have decided we will hold the event. We can’t forget what’s happened, but we don’t want to let fear and hate stop us.”

Dot to Dot said it will continue to work closely with all venues and relevant authorities to ensure the safety of its visitors.

Parklife Festival, which takes place in Heaton Park on 10-11 June, announced that its social media channels will be silent for 48 hours “in sympathy with those that lost their lives or were injured” but the event will go ahead as planned. “We are certain we will not be defeated by such cowardice,” it said on Twitter.

Musicians in the city have also spoken since the attacks. On BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday Elbow frontman Guy Garvey expressed his concern for Manchester’s Muslim community, saying that Abedi’s attack would never be condoned by anyone of “real faith”.

“The people in Manchester who will be most afraid because of what he did last night will be real Muslims, members of the real faith who don’t believe in violence and don’t believe in killing as a means to an end,” said Garvey. “Manchester’s multicultural history is part of why it’s such a successful city.”

Others have expressed their anger and frustration. Matty Healy, frontman of Manchester band the 1975, delivered an impassioned speech at the band’s gig in Detroit last night. Addressing the crowd, Healy said: “I’m fucking pissed off. I’m bored. I’m bored of nationalism and I’m bored of racism. Whatever. It’s over. Nationalism, religion, all these regressive things, they’re over. We can’t carry on in the way that we’re carrying on.”

Former Smiths frontman Morrissey released a statement criticising Theresa May, London mayor Sadiq Khan, the Queen and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, breaking rank from the narrative of strength within the city.

“Theresa May says such attacks ‘will not break us’, but her own life is lived in a bullet-proof bubble, and she evidently does not need to identify any young people today in Manchester morgues,” he said. “‘Will not break us’ means that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration. The young people of Manchester are already broken – thanks all the same.”

Morrissey’s former band mate Johnny Marr however tweeted: “Manchester stands together.”

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