Ariana Grande is making a return to Manchester much sooner than anyone expected. The singer’s May 22 concert was the site of a terrorist attack that claimed 22 lives, leading to an outpouring of grief and support on social media.
Now, just over a week later, Grande announced she’ll be playing a benefit for the victims of the Manchester attacks this coming Sunday. That’s sooner than anyone expected, and her lineup will be a good deal starrier than anyone could have anticipated. Usher, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Coldplay, One Direction’s Niall Horan and local band Take That will join Grande at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground to play to a crowd of 50,000. That’s not including those watching on the BBC or listening on BBC Radio One, where the concert will be simulcast.
Tickets will go on sale Thursday, though prices have yet to be announced. Grande will offer free tickets to anyone that attended the May 22 show.
This matters a great deal because, at its core, terrorism is an attack on normalcy. Whether you believe that a terrorist attack is designed to strike at symbols or an attempt to transpose the violence felt in the Middle East to the countries supposed to have perpetrated it, attacking a crowd of concertgoers is designed to replace freedom and joy with anxiety and fear. By so quickly returning to the site of the attack, Grande is sending a message that she and her fans won’t be cowed into submission. If an Ariana Grande concert could ever be said to be “brave,” this would be the one. And, more powerful still, she’ll be joined by a cadre of world-renowned entertainers. Safe spaces are much-derided these days, but we should also laud them when they are laudable. An Ariana Grande concert is the perfect time to explore feelings of joy, of connection and of self-discovery. It should be safe. And, with this latest concert, she’ll prove that the space is truly safe. Brava.
Read her full announcement below.