Thousands of music fans cheered the names of those killed in the Manchester Arena terror attack as the venue reopened for the first time with a charity concert.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, spoke as the benefit gig began, reciting the names of the 22 lost in the bombing.
The 14,000 inside the arena cheered and clapped the names before he said: “Thank you to the city for coming together. Thank you for being who you are. We are Manchester, a city united, nothing will ever change us, nothing will ever divide us.”
Families who lost loved ones and those injured in the terror attack three months ago were among the crowd at the sold-out gig. The event was to honour those affected by the outrage, welcome back live entertainment to the venue and raise money for a permanent memorial for the victims.
Fans attending the benefit concert on Saturday faced additional screening and bans on backpacks, large bags and some electrical items before they entered the venue.
Charlotte Campbell, whose daughter Olivia, 15, was killed in the attack, attended the event. She said: “It feels surreal at the minute. We have had to come back to show defiance, to show we are not scared and we don’t want Manchester to be scared.
“Music was Olivia’s life. If she had been still here today she would have been walking through those doors with us, showing her defiance, that they may have got her but she’s not beaten. She’s here with us. It’s a massive mix of emotions, there will be tears, there will be laughter, but the main thing is we are here. We have proved no one is going to beat us.”
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his device in the foyer of the venue at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, killing 23 including himself and injuring scores of others on 22 May.
The devastated area has been partly renovated and reopened for Saturday’s event – titled We Are Manchester – in a show of strength against terrorism. A team of trained trauma specialists and mental health professionals were on hand at the event for anyone who needed help.
The entertainment began with a pre-show DJ set from Clint Boon, followed by a performance from poet Tony Walsh, known as Longfella, with a recital of This is the Place, a homage to the city of Manchester. The event, headlined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, included performances by The Courteeners, Blossoms and Rick Astley.
All profits raised will go to the Manchester Memorial Fund, a charitable trust overseen by the city’s lord mayor to pay for the permanent memorial.