In tune with the pain
It didn’t matter what the original sentiment of the song was – don’t look back in anger? Of course, we will, for eternity.
What mattered was the time and place, the instant that a little voice deep in the crowd behind oversize pink sunglasses and under a baseball cap in St Anne’s Square spontaneously started singing, after the respectful and customary minute’s silence, what is already a Manchester anthem, Oasis’s own. This was Manchester’s heart speaking.
People looked around to see who it was as they automatically began mouthing the words they knew, and some they didn’t. It turned out to be Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow, almost a lyric all by itself (and who can blame her DJ dad for changing his name to Mike Shaft) when the cameras eventually found her out. But by then thousands had Sally waiting as we passed on by.
It's what art can do. It doesn’t heal anything all by itself, but brings people together to make the pain more bearable. You cry alone with the pain, but with the music you cry together.
And there’ll be more, and more pointless barriers tumbling. What Lydia started the combined musical power of the Hallé, Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic will try to emulate, and they will be joined by Elbow’s Guy Garvey at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Thursday, June 1, for a free concert along with the jazz singer Clare Teal and the classical soprano Alice Coote. Free, but there’s a crowd funding page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester.
It may look a little asymmetrical, but the Hallé, Manchester’s world class symphony orchestra, and Elbow, a key point in the city’s long line of home grown rock and pop talent all the way from Freddie and the Dreamers that has been followed by the parents and grandparents of the Ariana fans, are no strangers. Their partnership started in 2009 when the orchestra celebrated Elbow’s career with two Bridgewater Hall concerts and they’ve been doing it ever since, most recently in February with an album, Little Fictions.
Like Manchester’s communities, they are different but for now they are together, hooking their hands under folks’ sagging shoulders to lift them, just as Lydia did on Wednesday.
Perhaps it’s churlish to bring this up yet again, but I make no apologies for pointing to this indefinable power of art that makes it transcend politics and the senseless circumscribing of its work by mean funding, and why it must not be a football in the Brexit row coming. There will be plays, poems, paintings and films about what happened on Monday night at the Arena, but it’s the music that’s in all of us that first pulled us together.