Music is Love: One Love Manchester

Benefit concert ‘One Love Manchester’ proves that music brings people together in the wake of recent terror attacks in the UK.

Hey everyone,

I’ve been a little bit quiet lately, but if you follow me on my social media then you’ll know that I, like many others, tuned into BBC One’s coverage of the ‘One Love Manchester’ benefit concert on Sunday June 4th. Held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, thousands of fans gathered at the charity event organised by pop singer Ariana Grande, to honour and raise funds for victims of the recent terror attack which took place after one of her shows in the city, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more.

Being a music lover, I find solace and comfort in my favourite songs and will never be able to describe the feeling that can only come from truly connecting with a track, and being able to relate to someone else’s words on such a deep level. By extension, going to gigs is a way of celebrating and experiencing the joy and atmosphere that only a live show can bring. As I sat watching ‘One Love Manchester’ the poignancy of the whole event really hit me, even through my TV screen – and you’d only have to glance at Twitter to see that I wasn’t the only one.

I see concerts as a place of magic, of community, of belonging. There’s always the sense that, whatever you’re going through is left at the door and for those few hours, nothing else matters. Nothing but the music and the atmosphere that surrounds you. Coming together with total strangers but being united in the fact that you all believe in something, you all believe in this. ‘One Love Manchester’ really embodied that spirit, and showed that hate and fear will never overpower it.

Katy Perry’s words at One Love Manchester

There was a sense of strength and resilience at the core of the whole show; the artists playing tracks with powerful, inspirational vibes. From Robbie Williams’ moving renditions of ‘Strong’ and classic track ‘Angels’, to Katy Perry’s sassy performance of ‘Part of Me’, the message was clear: we will not be beaten. We will not be afraid.

Headliner Ariana Grande shared the stage with many of the other acts involved, including coming together with Miley Cyrus for a duet of Crowded House track ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, as well as joining forces with Coldplay to wow the audience with a heartfelt cover of popular Oasis number, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’

The 23 year old starlet also joined The Black Eyed Peas onstage for a performance of their 2003 number one single ‘Where Is The Love’. Upon its release the song topped the charts in 13 countries – including the UK where it occupied the number one spot for seven weeks – and is the epitome of the reason for the entire event. Lyrically, it addresses mindless acts of terrorism and asks, where is the love and compassion we should have for each other as human beings; making it as relevant now as it was back then.

Throughout every single act – including the likes of Little Mix, Niall Horan, Pharrell Williams, and Liam Gallagher – the 50,000 strong crowd sang, danced, and cried along to every single word. Many of the artists gave heartfelt speeches and were also overcome with emotion during their sets, none more so than Grande herself. As the night drew to a close, the young talent welcomed all the artists to the stage and thanked them for being involved, before launching into a heart-wrenching performance of her track ‘One Last Time’ – giving a goosebumps-inducing meaning to the song.

I have a huge amount of respect for Ariana Grande for organising the event and to all the artists who took part in some way, the entire concert overflowed with emotion and the love hung thick in the air – whether you were there or watching at home. Grande ended the night with a powerful version of ‘Over The Rainbow’, a beautiful moment that saw her become tearful. As she thanked and told the audience she loved them, it was evident that she herself is still deeply affected by what happened two weeks ago, but her spirit in organising the show and carrying on in spite of that is undisputedly endearing.

There is absolutely no denying the poignancy of the show as a whole, and of live music in general. To be so wrapped up in a song, to be able to scream the words at the top of your lungs because it means so much to you; and then to hear hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing, for the same reason is an amazingly moving feeling. The beautifully haunting sound of all the voices blending into one is truly something to be experienced and, in this particular incidence, knowing the reasons behind One Love Manchester: paying tribute to those who were lost or injured in the attack, you couldn’t not be moved by it.

Did you catch ‘One Love Manchester’ on BBC One last Sunday? What did you think of the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

Happy New Year 2016 (and Here’s to 2017!)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that 2017 got off to a great start whatever it is you got up to – whether that was downing shots in the pub or cosied up in front of the TV. As has come to be tradition around here, I wanted my first blog of 2017 to look back on the previous year, talk you through the highlights and give some much-deserved thanks.

If you’ve been around here for the last couple of years then you’ll know that I totally re-designed the blog at the beginning of 2016. After starting this site back in 2010 it had become increasingly apparent that it was showing its age and in desperate need of a face-lift. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out – it’s undoubtedly a massive improvement!

Speaking of behind-the-scenes type things, we managed to hit over 5,500 views last year, with an average of 400-500 hits a month. Considering that it was on (just over) 3,500 in 2015 – with an average of approximately 2,000 over previous years – it totally blows my mind. To have grown by that many views – for someone who just sits in her bedroom and writes about things she’s passionate about – is an amazing feeling. Another thing that I’m always indescribably thankful for, is when an artist I’ve written about shares my work.

alex-marshall-blog-love

Click here to see some of the really lovely things people have said about my work.

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I never expect – just because I’ve written about someone – that they’re going to share it with their followers in any way, so it’s always really flattering when it happens. Throughout 2016 my work was liked, read and shared by artists that I have great admiration and respect for, as well as people who have read and found something they like in it. That never goes unappreciated – after all, there wouldn’t be much point to me writing this blog if no one was reading it!

On that note, I’m beyond proud of all the posts that I uploaded last year. I remember when I interviewed Brian Dales (The Summer Set) back in 2012, he said “the more you practice your craft, the better you get at it”, and that is something that really resonated with me. When I set up this blog it was as a requirement for a university project, so priority-wise it always came second to something, whether that was my degree or a full-time job. However, over the last 2 years I’ve really focused a lot of my time and energy on writing and I think that shows, both in my skills as a journalist, and the amount of views this blog has gotten over the last 12 months.

However, whilst I feel like I’ve really honed my skills as a writer and I’m happy with my current style, that is by no means saying that everything I do is perfect – it isn’t – and that there isn’t always more to learn and improve on – there is.

My Top 5 most viewed posts this year

My Top 5 most viewed posts last year

I also saw some great artists live last year, including The Summer Set – on the UK leg of their ‘Stories For Monday tour’ – and Waltzz, the latter of whom approached me to possibly review some of his music at the beginning of the year. Following that, and also meeting up with him at a music showcase event in November, we’re now on each other’s Christmas card lists!

As well as that, I also reviewed Costa-Blanca based band Snowblind when they came over for a UK tour in the spring. Subsequently my review was then published in Spanish/English magazine ‘QR’. This was a huge achievement, and very flattering, for me as it’s not every day that I’m approached to have my work published. Seeing it in print was such a surreal feeling; I love how it came out.

Snowblind review in QR

Snowblind review in QR

There were also some amazing releases from some fantastic artists including, The Summer Set, Against The Current, rap/rock duo Stevie P and Sketch, and former member of The Cab Alex Marshall, who dropped his debut solo single during the summer. I won’t go into that in too much detail though because I have my ‘Top Songs of 2016’ coming in the next few weeks, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that.

Going forward into 2017, I’d like to incorporate more of my interests into this platform that aren’t necessarily music based but more lifestyle. Over the course of last year I wrote about non-music related subjects and they seemed to be really well received. I opened up about my disability ahead of The Paralympics – something I’d never thought I’d do but I’m proud of all the same. And, I wrote a follow-up to my Tattoo Fixers article about the ‘On Holiday’ spin-off of the show. If you’ve started following my blog recently then you’ll also know that I actually got a piece done by Tattoo Fixers’ very own Sketch, at his South-east London studio Reppin Ink in November. Having wanted a piece done by him for a few years (not to mention being a big fan of his music) that was a major highlight of the year. It was a really fun experience, and he’s one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you could ever hope to meet.

Click here to see the blog post all about my tattoo experience with Sketch

Click here to see the blog post all about my tattoo experience with Sketch

I’d also like to make these lifestyle posts a bit chattier; I’m thinking of posting one a week and calling it ‘Chatty Tuesday’ or something. I also hope to make my ‘Book Club’ reviews more regular again, and perhaps even do a ‘YouTuber of the Month’ segment; I have a lot of ideas. As I’m getting older I just want to widen the scope a bit, while also making sure that the blog remains very music-based. As such, I met and discovered some amazing talent last year, so I hope to get some interviews in the pipeline too.

With that being said, I also want to remember to live in the moment and spend time with family and friends. This means that I’m not going to try and review everything anymore, but instead focus on the music/things that I 100% love and have a strong desire to promote. So, if you’ve ever sent me something to review and I haven’t got back to you, I’m sorry but I am just one person, it’s a busy life and I can’t do everything – as I’m sure you can understand.

However, thank you for your support over the years and I hope that you’ll continue on this journey with me throughout 2017 – let’s make it a great one!

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts this year, be sure to come and join me on:

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🙂