Manchester attack: Too soon to go back to a gig, or cowardly to cancel?


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Media captionSimple Minds fans stood to remember the victims of Monday’s attack

Bands and fans have returned to Manchester’s music venues, a day after the attack on Manchester Arena – led by Simple Minds, who said cancelling their show would have felt “cowardly”.

Many of their fans agreed, saying they would not let the bomb stop them.

But hundreds stayed away from the gig because it was “too soon” after 22 people died at an Ariana Grande show.

Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr told the Bridgewater Hall crowd: “We would have felt cowardly just leaving town.”

Their concert was the biggest gig in the city on Tuesday, and Kerr began by delivering a speech about the dilemma they faced in light of the previous night’s events.

“This morning when we woke there was a decision to be made – do we play or do we cancel and leave town?” he said.

“I’m sure if we had done that, everybody would have understood. But we would have felt cowardly.”


Bag searches took place outside the Bridgewater Hall

  • Manchester attack: Latest updates

With the rest of the band lined up on stage, he added: “When we went through the band and spoke to the crew, everybody wanted to play. There was no doubt about that.”

Before launching into the gig, he asked the audience to “take one minute to meditate and we’ll play a bit of music and think of the victims of last night and their families”.

The crowd spontaneously rose to their feet and stood in silence as reflective pre-recorded music was played.

‘Too soon’

There were empty seats, though. The show had been sold out, but when the gig started, on my level, around 80% of ticketholders had turned up.

The venue’s capacity is 2,300 – meaning several hundred decided to stay away.

Many ticket-holders had earlier said they didn’t agree with the decision to go ahead.

“Sadly wont be going,” wrote Andrew Sturgess on Twitter. “Tried to reason for going all day. I can understand both sides. But too soon and too close for me.”


Simple Minds performed as usual after asking for a minute of meditation

Lindsay Hunt said: “Can’t believe this concert is going ahead. Too soon. Our seats will be empty as my kids are still in shock after last night’s events.”

And Chris M wrote: “After much soul-searching, have decided not to go tonight. I know the show must go on, but the feeling just isn’t right with me.”

Among those who did attend, there was defiance.

“We are very saddened, but then we feel we’ve got to come,” Diane Barber from Northwich in Cheshire told BBC News before the show.

“It would be too easy not to come. It’s been hard. But we have to. That’s the thing about Manchester – it’s very strong. It’s hard to come, but why should we let these people beat us?”


Take That postponed their show in Liverpool on Tuesday “out of respect”

Another concert-goer named Gill said: “We should keep on with life, keep doing what we’re doing. I did have hesitations. I’ve got children at home and I didn’t want them worrying that we’re in town.

“But I wanted to also show them that we don’t give in to these violent, evil people and we carry on doing our best to keep supporting the arts and the city and businesses and life.”

‘Being brave’

Ray Collins, also from Northwich, said turning up represented “being brave and standing up for values”.

He said: “I know it was an extremely sad and sadistic thing that happened last night… and people may have doubts about Simple Minds with the way they’re carrying on with their concert, but I think that’s standing up for our values.

“There’s fright but we’ve got to be strong as well.”

One band that faced the same dilemma as Simple Minds was Take That, but the Mancunian man band reached a different decision.

They played three nights at the city’s arena last weekend and were due to play three more nights there this weekend.

In between, they were scheduled to appear at Liverpool Echo Arena on Tuesday, but postponed that show “out of respect to all of the people and their families that were affected by the horrific incident last night”.


The Courteeners will still play to 50,000 people in Manchester on Saturday

Back in Manchester, a member of the city’s musical royalty – former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr – made a surprise appearance with Broken Social Scene at the Albert Hall on Tuesday.

Other gigs went ahead, and it was confirmed that one of the city’s musical events of the year will take place as planned this Saturday.

The Courteeners will play a sold-out 50,000-capacity show at Old Trafford cricket ground, supported by other local bands including The Charlatans and Blossoms.

Announcing the decision, The Courteeners frontman Liam Fray said of the attack: “This will hurt. For a long time. But as you walk around town today try not to bow your head. Look up at the skies. We’ll see you on Saturday.”

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