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As a gig goer who takes my son with me, the Manchester attack will not deter us from our love of music

I won’t stop going and I won’t stop him going. Some things are too good to allow people like the Manchester attacker to get in the way of

James Moore
Wednesday 24 May 2017 13:14 BST
Comments
I hope Ariana Grande feels able to return to Manchester at some point in the future, just as Eagles of Death Metal did to the Bataclan
I hope Ariana Grande feels able to return to Manchester at some point in the future, just as Eagles of Death Metal did to the Bataclan (Tony Jupp)

Different attacks, different methods, similar targets. I wonder if there weren't similarly perverse reasons for their targeting of gigs that go beyond the fact that they are what have come to be known as “soft targets”.

Live music is special. Whether the venue is a 1,000 capacity club, or a 100,000 capacity stadium, those of us who attend take part in a shared intimacy as we watch our favourite artists perform for us.

Humans are still tribal beings at heart. Our inability to move beyond that is often our biggest problem. But when we come together to listen to music, we forget what divides us, we become part of the same group, and it’s a happy group.

Emotional crowd at Manchester vigil roused by Tony Walsh's stirring poem

Animosity at these events is very rare. Even people like me, as someone who usually feels deeply uncomfortable in crowds, just the sort you might find on a Saturday afternoon at Lidl can sometimes be enough, can relax and revel in the experience.

That's true even if the music is fast and angry. That just makes it all the more exciting (just my taste, I know).

The thrill and the bonding are also predominantly secular. Not always. I know lots of people go to The Reverend Al Green’s Memphis church to hear the great man sing. Many of the travel guides covering the American South recommend it.

But it is predominantly secular.

Perhaps then, it shouldn’t be surprising, that the adherents of an extreme, and twisted cult, loosely based on one of the world’s great faiths, have targeted it. Its followers don't want people feeling happy in any other context than in the throes of religious ecstasy, and sometimes not even then.

The Manchester attack was all the more sad, and despicable, because many of those there will have been experiencing what’s special about a gig for the first time.

Compared to the crowed who gathered to see the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan, the audience for Ariana Grande, who had just wrapped up her performance when the attack in Manchester happened, skews younger, and female, and I wonder if that too played a role in the attacker’s sick thought processes.

Many of those there will have been experiencing their first gig, which makes what happened all the more horrible given that for some it was also their last.

It is understandable that even some of those who survived might not want to chance a repeat. Not to mention their parents.

“As a dad who takes his kids to gigs, those pictures of waiting parents watching as people come running are terrifying,” a friend of mine posted on Facebook.

I know what he feels like, as someone who has started to take my own son to live events.

His tastes run more to Metallica than Ariana Grande. Thanks to the attack on her gig, some of the excitement, some of the joy, when I take him for his first experience of the band at the O2 will inevitably be tempered with an unpleasant frisson of fear. How could it be otherwise, even if security there is tight (think aircraft scanners before you get in) and even if the chances of being caught up in a terrorist attack remain very small.

Nonetheless I won’t stop going and I won’t stop him going. Some things are too good to allow people like the Manchester attacker to get in the way of.

I hope Ms Grande feels able to return to Manchester at some point in the future, just as Eagles of Death Metal did to the Bataclan. That would be a powerful way to raise the middle finger to people like that individual.

The band should play, and keep on playing.

After every one of these attacks, we hear the same things. Condemnations, pledges to bring those responsible to justice, promises that they will not be allowed to destroy what unites us.

The scenes, and the photos from Manchester, a city I called home for three years, made me angry, livid even, and they will have done the same to many others.

Soon the siren voices will be urging us to strike back, with bombs and guns of our own. It is what the US President promised to do.

That would just end up killing more kids. It’s hard to shrug one’s shoulders, keep calm, carry on, and go to the next gig. But it really is the best way to respond.

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