Mixed feelings as Ariana Grande set to perform at Manchester Pride
Ariana Grande is returning to the stage in Manchester tonight, two years after a terror attack killed 22 people at one of her concerts.
The US singer will be the headline act at Manchester Pride Live.
It will be the first time she has performed in the city since hosting the One Love Manchester tribute concert, two weeks after the suicide bombing in May 2017.
The victims were targeted as they left Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena. The attacker, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, also died at the scene.
Manchester Pride Live organisers told Sky News that Grande was the obvious choice for the weekend event, which champions LGBT+ equality.
Chief executive Mark Fletcher said: “Ariana Grande means so much to Mancunians and Manchester means a great deal to Ariana Grande.
“She is a fantastic LGBT+ ally and has been for years, so for her to be coming along, we couldn’t think of a better artist.”
Grande’s return has provoked mixed reactions from those directly involved in the Manchester Arena attack.
Carla Seath and her daughter, then aged 11, attended Grande’s May 2017 concert and narrowly missed being caught up in the explosion.
Mrs Seath told Sky News: “We normally leave in the middle of the last song at a concert, but because my daughter was having such a good time we stayed all the way to the end.
“Then as we were leaving we came down the stairs and saw people lying on the ground. And my daughter immediately said: ‘It’s a terrorist attack.'”
Mrs Seath will be at Sunday’s concert, along with a group of teenage survivors, and hopes seeing Grande again will provide a sense of closure for them all.
She said: “I know that is going to be massive for them, as some of them haven’t been back to a concert since.
“It’s huge, and for me, it is going and getting that sense of ‘it’s going to be okay’.”
Grande has said she had post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack.
Security at the event, held at Mayfield Depot in the city centre, will be tighter than in previous years.
Organisers have promised a visible police and security presence and a clear bag policy, meaning fans can only bring items in transparent bags and purses.
For some, seeing Grande back in Manchester will bring back painful memories.
Figen Murray’s son, Martyn, 29, died during the attack.
She told Sky News: “At the moment, I don’t feel strong enough to see her.
“The irrational part of me is thinking: ‘Well, if you hadn’t come to Manchester that day and had you gone to a different town, Martyn may still be here.’
“I have nothing against her at all, she’s a lovely girl, but find it very difficult to listen to the songs, so if she comes on the radio I admit I turn the radio off.”