Global music stars join 50,000 fans at Old Trafford and 15 million TV viewers in emotional stance against terror
Despite the impressive array of global pop icons rolled out for the One Love Manchester at Old Trafford cricket ground on Sunday night, it was (perhaps appropriately) a policeman who stole the show.
Stood at the back and keeping a dutiful eye over the 50,000 strong crowd, the policeman, spotting a nearby group of young girls dancing ring-around-a-rosy circles, took them by the hand and joined in (see bottom). It was a simple but moving gesture which lit up social media like a Coldplay pyrotechnics show. 'Imagine if all the terrorists achieved was to reform Take That and Oasis and inspire a policeman to dance in circles with a group of little girls', tweeted one viewer.
And Robbie did join Take That on stage, though not for a song, while the surprise announcement of Liam Gallagher late in the show had many (mostly the dads) crossing fingers and toes for the inevitable arrival of brother Noel. He didn't show. But then it didn't really matter. There was no room for agenda, ego or grudge here (even Coldplay's Chris Martin forgave Gallagher his past 'geography teacher' slurs), just for love, spirit and defiance in response to the attack which killed 22 at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena just two weeks ago, and another in London on Saturday night, which has so far claimed the lives of seven.
“Thank you for coming together and being so loving and strong. The love that we have here is the medicine that we need right now," Grande told the crowd, cutting a remarkably graceful figure for one so young (she's just 23), in what must have been an almost unbearably emotional evening for the pop princess and her team.
And the moments of high emotion were unrelenting; from Robbie's adapted version of Strong ('Maaaaaanchester we're strong, we're strong'), and Katy Perry's Roar of defiance, to the 26 students from Parrs Wood high school choir - some of whom were at Manchester Arena on that fateful Monday night - who performed a heart-wrenching rendition of Grande's My Everything.
Earlier in the evening, it was local poet Tony 'Longfella' Walsh who opened proceedings with a rip-roaring reading of his ode to Manchester, This Is The Place, his final words resonating not just around the cricket ground, or Manchester, but from London to Paris, Brussels to Berlin, Stockholm to Portland to Istanbul and Kabul: "Choose Love".
And we did.
Organisers say the concert raised a further £2m for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund - which now stands at over £10m.
You can watch the concert in full here.
And here's that policeman...
All image credits: Dave Hogan