Whether or not you’re a fan of Ariana Grande, your heart has to break at the thought of a 23-year-old trying to come to terms with the twist of fate that caused a terrorist to murder her school-age fans at her concert in Manchester. The bomber could have struck just about anywhere or anytime, but he chose this performance on this night. Her concerts were something that brought her and her fans great joy; now it’s associated with this. She’s understandably traumatized, describing herself as “broken.”
The band Pearl Jam dealt with a fatal tragedy at one of their concerts in 2000, when a stampede at a concert in Denmark led to the death of nine people. The band faced accusations that they were somehow at fault for the stampede, accusations they vehemently denied, saying no one at the event communicated to them about the dangerous situation in the audience until it was too late. The band canceled their next two shows and spent about a month in seclusion, then gradually returned to the stage, eventually establishing surprisingly close and lasting friendships with the families of the fans who died.
“To have that happen while we were playing, it was hard to continue on from there because your memories get connected to things, especially music, and that was a matter of life and death that absolutely had us thinking the band couldn’t go on,” Eddie Vedder said in 2002.
You may love Grande’s music, or you may find it to be soft-core tripe. But these unjust circumstances have brought us to the point where we all have to root for the arrival of the day she sings and performs on a stage again. To be silenced would be to concede a victory to the bomber.