|Ariana Grande at the One Love Manchester charity concert. — AFP Photo
LONDON — Fans gathered in Manchester for a star-studded charity concert on Sunday, recalling victims of a suicide bomb attack following an Ariane Grande concert last month and vowing to face down fears of terrorism less than 24 hours after an assault in London claimed seven lives.
A sell-out crowd of 50,000, many of them clutching "For our angels" signs, fell silent for a minute before Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford opened the show.
Hastily organised as a benefit concert for the 22 people killed and 116 injured on May 22, many of them children, the "One Love Manchester" event showcases one of the biggest single gatherings of musical talent this year.
Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Take That, Usher, the Black Eyed Peas, Little Mix and One Direction’s Niall Horan were all expected to hit the stage.
But on the eve of the concert, Britain was rocked by another terrorist attack in London, in which seven people were killed and 48 injured. Grande tweeted "Praying for London" while her manager Scooter Braun said the concert would go ahead "with greater purpose".
Fans flocked to the Old Trafford cricket ground for the concert, some posing with police officers while supermarket staff handed out free snacks.
Authorities expected 130,000 people to be in the area and additional security measures were put in place, with police asking people not to bring bags to the venue in order to speed up entry as "everyone will be searched".
Revellers dressed for the occasion, with many wearing tops featuring a bee — a symbol for Manchester — and slogans expressing their love for the city.
"We’re here to show our support to Manchester more than anything. These people aren’t going to dampen our spirits," said 34-year-old Abdullah Mala.
His eight-year-old daughter Hannah had left the Grande concert just before the deadly bombing and said she was "happy to be back" to see some of pop’s biggest names. — AFP