FEATURE: The Manchester Arena Attack: A World in Shock



The Manchester Arena Attack:


Photo: Getty Images

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 


A World in Shock


ONE would have thought the most upsetting news from the past week…

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would be the death of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell – an untimely passing that is still fresh and raw. We all have woken up to (or went to bed hearing) the news that came from the Ariana Grande concert: an explosion outside the Manchester Arena at around 22:30 (the previous night) had killed, and the numbers continue to climb, twenty-two people. Among the casualties, we are learning, are around fifty-nine injured: many of the wounded and dead are believed the be children. The attacker, it has been claimed, died at the scene and authorities are working to determine whether he acted alone or was part of a network. Eyewitnesses have reported what they say: shrapnel and debris flying around; countless blood-strewn bodies lying on the ground.

It is a description and scene we should not be seeing in any situation – let alone a Pop concert.

This is the first major terrorist attack at a music event since the attack on the Bataclan in November 2015. In fact, this is the most horrific and worst terrorist attack on British soil since the bombings in July 2005 (in London).

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IN THIS PHOTO: Ariana Grande, who took to Twitter shortly after the attack to offer her support and love

Whilst nations like France have experienced terrorist attacks more frequently (in the past few years) than us in the U.K.; the fact the latest atrocity took place at an arena brings back thoughts of 2015’s horror. What makes the attack that much worse is the scale and nature of the fatalities. The numbers will continue to climb and more details will come to light.

The attacker will not be given the humanity of identity; only to say it is, obviously, a terrorist attack with no sane or rational motive.

As with every similar attack, there is a personal agenda – whether religion or something else – but the people affected by it are always innocent and unarmed. Music is a community that offers love and togetherness and should not have to witness anything like this. We are all, right now, part of Manchester and a force against evil. The music world has come out in force to offer their condolences and sympathy. There is that sense of heartbreak and shock right around the world – messages and support across the globe have been streaming in.

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Whilst there was no way of predicting what would happen last night, are we at a point when we have to check everyone who comes into a concert? The logistical nightmare of searching each person and being that thorough is something we don’t even see in airports. There are thousands of concerts around the world every year so it would not be feasible to implement such a practice but there are, understandably, anxieties and fears right around the world.

The sheer callousness and senselessness of the Manchester Arena attack is what really stings.

It was, in essence, a random attack on innocent people: how could those people at the Ariana Grande concert have anything to do with that man’s political and religious motives? Why would he go to those lengths to destroy the lives of innocent humans?! There is no excuse or explanation for such a barbaric and baffling attack. Not only, in that moment, did he hit at the beating heart of Manchester but the entire world.

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The music world is a strong and defiant one and that is certainly true of Manchester. Grande, herself, took to Twitter to offer an apology (and sadness) at what happened. It is awful she feels any responsibility but musicians have said the same thing: concerts should be a safe place where everyone can unify and not have to fear violence.

The concert itself would have been well-received and a true highlight for those watching. To have that mood turned in a single moment in such a brutal fashion is horrendous.

Whilst the attacker carried out the explosion outside the arena; one wonders whether he ever gained access to the venue and if, in the light of this attack, perimeters should be imposed at all large venues. It seems like an absurd overreaction but there are people who will not feel safe going to gigs right now. Although there are very few attacks of this size and nature; it is not to say this will not repeat itself – perhaps not in Manchester but in another city, somewhere. There are no words that justify the attack and nothing we can do to turn the clock back.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Georgina Callander has been named as one of the fatalities from last night’s attack

We will know more in time but, rather disturbingly, photos will be put to victims and many missing will be confirmed injured or dead. When we hear statistics and witness accounts; it has an impact but the greatest sorrow is when we see the images of those smiling faces: the humans lost who were going about their business and heading home.

The waiting families would have been frantic – many still are – and beside themselves with grief and stress.

Those who perpetrate such animalistic deeds do not ever consider the full extent and reality of what they do. To them, they are carrying out orders or, in their own mind, have a noble and important reason. Whether that is down to hate or (an odd and screwed-up) love, it will not be met with passiveness and fear. People are already joining together and eradicating evil with a wave of love and defiance.

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This country has had to respond to terrorist attacks before but few will have the same determination to stand together and volume as this one – those joining together voicing their disgust and defiance. Attacks of any sort are horrifying but this has been levelled at music-lovers and the music community. Not only are the British public (and those further afield) resolute and rebellious against those cowardly enough to orchestrate such savagery but will carry on regardless – we will not be cowed and silenced by sub-human killers. The echoes and impact of the Manchester Arena attack will be felt for many more days and weeks. What the venues does from here – tighter security or suspend events in light of the attack – is a mystery but it will be a very tough and emotional next few days for them.

Do music fans avoid going to large venues through fear of repeated terror incidents?!

We can’t, in any pragmatic sense, stop enjoying music and having that innate and inalienable human right. Unfortunately, there will be many now scared to go to big gigs; scarred and stunned by what we are all having to accept. It is something we cannot stand for and I know the communities of music and the free world will respond to this with fierce compassion and endless support. That is, perhaps, the only good thing to come out of this: it will bring us all closer together and promote greater compassion. As we all come to terms and take this all in, I, like many out there, can only hope that this is…

THE last time we see anything like this.


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