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Manchester Arena reopens with charity gig

Manchester Arena reopened this weekend after being closed for four months following the terrorist attack that killed 22 people.

The We Are Manchester gig included performances from local acts Noel Gallagher, The Courteeners, Blossoms and Rick Astley on Saturday night.

The charity concert, which attracted more than 21,000 fans, raised money to go towards a permanent memorial to the victims of the bomb attack, which took place in May during an Ariana Grande concert.

Blossoms told BBC’s Newsbeat before the gig that they were “honoured to be asked to play.”

“Maybe it’s because we’re from here that we felt it more than say if it happened elsewhere. Everyone would have preferred it under different circumstances but the gig needed to happen and they needed to reopen the arena. People will talk about it in years to come.”

Comedian Peter Kay also spoke to the crowd at the Manchester Arena and said: “We can’t let terrorists win.”

Kay worked as a steward at the venue in the 1990s before going on to perform there more than 40 times.

“The victims will never ever be forgotten, but we’ve got to move forward with love and not hate, and that’s how we win,” he said.

Two fans, Hannah and Sophie, who were at the Ariana Grande gig at Manchester Arena on the night of the attack on 22 May, Sophie told Newsbeat: “It was horrifying, it was scary. It wasn’t something that you’d ever witness in your life.”

She added that the extra security in place this weekend at the venue reopening made the girls feel “safe, but it’s scary.”

Prior to the reopening, survivors of the bombing had been urged to “carefully” consider whether to return to the venue for the reopening gig.

Nick Taylor, chief executive of the Foundation for Peace charity, said that in the case of survivors of traumatic incidents, returning to the scene doesn’t always do good.

Taylor said that the foyer has changed significantly since the bombing on May 22.

Last month, Taylor said: “We suggest that people affected by the attack think carefully about whether this is the right concert for them to go to.”

During the charity gig, Noel Gallagher, former leader of Oasis, spoke about how the band’s song ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ was sung by crowds days after the attack.

He said: “It became an anthem for defiance. Every time you sing, we win.”

Image: Rob Sinclair