Vigils have been held and messages of solidarity and condolence have flooded in from across the music industry after police confirmed that 22 people died and 59 others were injured in a horrific terrorist attack following an explosion after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday night (22nd May). The attack is understood to have taken place outside of the arena in a public area.
The first of the victims to be named was 18-year-old Georgina Callander, while eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos and 26-year-old John Atkinson have also since been confirmed among the fatalities.
The threat level in the UK was last night raised from ‘severe’ to ‘critical’ for the first time since 2007, meaning “not only that an attack remains highly likely but a further attack may be imminent”.
UK Music Chief Executive Michael Dugher, said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this horrific attack. It is even more distressing that children and teenagers have been targeted. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our brave emergency services and the venue staff. We know venues take security very seriously and do all they can to minimise risks, including training staff how to deal with major incidents. As a result of police investigations there will no doubt be a further review of these measures. Music has the power to bring people together and is so often a celebration of peace and love. We will not let terrorism and the politics of violence, hatred and division conquer that spirit”.
Ariana Grande simply tweeted: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words”.
Concert promoter Live Nation also issued the following statement: “We are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy and our hearts and thoughts are with those impacted by this devastating incident”.
The O2 Arena issued a statement: “Along with everyone else, we are shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy in Manchester. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected and their families”.
Upcoming shows including Grande’s current tour and Take That’s forthcoming dates in Liverpool and Manchester have been postponed.
It is especially abhorrent that this was clearly aimed at kids attending a pop concert- a place of escapism, wonder and self-expression that presumably embodies everything such attackers detest.
No doubt questions will be raised about security at venues and the safety of festivals this season and it will be important to balance vigilance with perspective. There is no question that the safety and security of audiences is the top priority of promoters and that security measures are continually reviewed. In addition, the UK has a first class private security industry that has built up around such events and an open dialogue with law enforcement and other agencies at national and regional levels. If additional measures need to be introduced they will be and as difficult as it is right now, the shows must go on. This will undoubtedly have a knock on effect of parents considering taking their kids to arenas or letting them go alone- how could it not? It’s also important to note that this incident took place in a public space just outside of the arena, so where do you draw the line? How will international touring artists, watching from afar, feel about the general safety of UK venues now?
There is a light that never goes out. Stay strong Manchester.
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