Ariana Grande defiantly returned to the stage in Manchester on Sunday, two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at one of her concerts there — and as Britain mourned more dead from another weekend terror attack.
The 23-year-old songstress openly wept along with her fans as she closed the night with a wrenching rendition of “Over the Rainbow.”
“I love you guys so much, and I think the kind of love you’re displaying is the medicine the world needs right now,” she told the 50,000-strong crowd at Manchester’s Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Grande was overcome with emotion several times on stage, including while recounting a recent meeting with the mother of 15-year-old Olivia Campbell-Hardy, one of her fans killed when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb outside her May 22 show.
She said Olivia’s mom told her, “‘Stop crying.’ Olivia wouldn’t have wanted me to cry. She told me Olivia would’ve wanted to hear the hits!”
The starlet said the mom’s request for “the hits” led her to revamp her whole set list just a day before.
“We had a totally different show planned, and we had a rehearsal yesterday, and we changed everything,” she said.
Hometown hero Liam Gallagher, the former lead singer of Oasis, made a surprise appearance near the end of the show, performing several of the band’s hits.
Meanwhile, Grande teamed with Coldplay to sing the band’s biggest tune, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” — a song that became a local rallying cry in the wake of the May bombing.
All came with a message of love for members of the crowd, who sang and danced along despite the horror that rocked the city last month.
“You guys are so brave. What an amazing thing we’re doing tonight, would you not agree? Would you agree that love always wins?” said Bieber, leading the crowd in a chant of, “Love! Love! Love!”
Perry encouraged everyone watching the show to touch the person next to them and tell them, “I love you,” before launching into her hits “Part of Me” and “Roar.”
“It’s not easy to always choose love, especially in moments like these. It can be the most difficult thing to do. But love conquers fear and love conquers hate. And this love you choose will give you strength and is it source of your greatest power,” Perry said.
Grande performed at least 10 songs during the show, including chart-toppers “Break Free” and “One Last Time,” as well as several covers.
She also had duets with several other big names on the bill, including “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House with Cyrus, “Where is the Love” with the Black Eyed Peas and her own tune “My Everything” alongside a local high-school choir, whose star-struck young members cried though the song.
The British Red Cross said the One Love Manchester benefit raised more than £10 million ($13 million) for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, created for those affected by the attack.
Fans who were at that show were offered free tickets to Sunday’s event, although some 10,000 heartless scammers who weren’t there tried to claim one, according to Ticketmaster.
Grande had suspended her world tour after the attack but is set to return to the road on June 7 with a show in Paris.