Just four days after floating a plan to stage a massive benefit concert for the victims of the May 22 terrorist attack in Manchester, England, Ariana Grande, her manager Scooter Braun and two of the biggest promoters in the U.K. are launching an event that will be seen by millions of people around the world.
Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester will take place June 4 at the cricket stadium at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester and will be produced by Live Nation subsidiary Festival Republic and Simon Moran’s SJM Concerts. Money raised from the event will go to support the families of the 22 individuals killed in the attack and the over 100 injured.
“The idea to host this event came from Ariana,” Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn tells Billboard. “She was very traumatized after the attack, but it was very important to her to support the victims and show a level of defiance that stands up to this bloodlust and ambivalence towards innocent individuals and tells the terrorists that they are not going to stop us.”
Benn says Braun first floated the benefit concert idea on Friday, contacting Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino before reaching out to Benn and Moran. Braun booked all the talent playing the festival, first signing Coldplay before receiving commitments from Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Usher, Take That and Niall Horan. All bands except Coldplay will play with Ariana’s backing band, along with a school choir made up of Manchester students. Fans who purchased tickets to the May 22 show at Manchester Arena will be given free entry to the benefit concert. General admission tickets will go on sale through Ticketmaster beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. BST here. Ticketmaster will not charge ticketing fees for the concert and all net ticket proceeds from the show will go to the We Love Manchester emergency fund.
“The whole thing will come together in less than nine days,” explains Benn, who said he helped convince Manchester United, one of the most popular soccer clubs in the world, to start a match on the same day 90 minutes earlier to accommodate the concert, moving a tribute game for midfielder Michael Carrick from 4 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to free up the train station so that concert fans wouldn’t be arriving at the same time that soccer fans were trying to leave.
“Manchester United’s Football grounds are about 700 yards from the cricket stadium where the concert will be taking place,” Benn said. “Moving the game took a phenomenal amount of conversation — it’s not easy to move a football match with 70,000 people, especially after all of the tickets are sold.”
The concert will be broadcast on BBC TV, BBC Radio and Capital Radio Networks who are all “agreeing to shut down their programming Sunday evening to air the concert,” Benn said. “It’s a phenomenal commitment especially from BBC TV” who opted to air the entire concert live.
In terms of security, Benn said “the very first call we made was to the chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police — if he had said ‘this can’t happen,’ then it wouldn’t have happened. But he instead said the exact opposite and told us, ‘This is an amazing thing that Ariana wants to do and it shows we’re not defeated, we’re standing together united,’ and even though it’s going to be a phenomenal amount of work, he fully embraced the idea.”
Between police and private security, Benn estimates there will be “more than double the security personnel” on the ground with a commitment from the police that they will “resource this concert to an absolutely full level because they want people to feel safe attending events and visiting Manchester.”
The concert will be Grande’s first appearance since the attack — she canceled a number of dates on her Dangerous Woman Tour through June 5.
“My heart, prayers and deepest condolences are with the victims of the Manchester Attack and their loved ones,” she wrote in a lengthy letter to fans vowing to return to the English city after the attacks. “There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better. However, I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way.”
PHOTO: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Republic Records