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Tight security and tears as Manchester benefit concert kicks off

By Mark Hanrahan1 | MANCHESTER, England

MANCHESTER, England U.S . pop singer Ariana Grande headlined a star-studded benefit concert in Manchester on Sunday that was both joyful and mournful, in aid of victims of the bombing that rocked the city last month, as security fears ran high after attackers in London killed seven people.

Around 50,000 fans crammed into Old Trafford cricket ground under the watchful eye of hundreds of police, including a significant number of armed officers, a sight that would be unusual under normal circumstances.

The show saw performances from big pop acts from both sides of the Atlantic, including local heroes Take That and Liam Gallagher, along with Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Little Mix, Coldplay, the Black Eyed Peas, and Grande.

The show was a mix of gaiety and somber reflection – fans could at times be seen jumping for joy, while others, holding banners saying “for our angels”, could be seen wiping away tears . The event began with a moment of silence for the victims of the bombing less than two weeks ago.

“I don t want to feel or hear or see any fear in this building,” U.S . singer Pharrell Williams told the crowd as he led them in a rendition of his hit single “Happy”. “The only thing we ll feel here tonight is love, and positivity.”

Fellow singer Miley Cyrus joined the rendition and said: “I d like to wrap my arms around each and every one of you and thank you .. . The most important responsibility we have in this time is to take care of one another.”

During her set, “Part of Me”, singer Katy Perry told the crowd: “love conquers fear and love conquers hate, and this love you choose will give you strength and it s our greatest power,” before asking the crowd to turn and hug the person next to them.

The somber cause that the concert was being held to benefit was never far from the crowd’s mind . Grande told the audience that her song selection was influenced by the mother of 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, who died in last month’s bombing.

“Sorry” singer Justin Bieber also paid tribute, saying: “I just want to take this moment to honor the people that were lost . We love you so much .

To the families, we love you so much.”

Up to 14,000 of those who attended Grande’s May 22 concert, at which a suicide bomber killed 22 children and adults, were given free tickets to attend Sunday’s show, with some persuaded to attend by their affection for the pop star, and despite their very real concerns about security.

“I m real excited, but real scared,” Shannon Beetham, 14, who was injured in last month’s bombing, told Reuters. “We were there in Manchester (arena) as well, I was hit.”

There were also plenty of upbeat moments, such as when a uniformed police officer was seen holding hands and dancing hand-in-hand with young fans, or when former Oasis front man Liam Gallagher belted out a swaggering version of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”.

Grande closed the show by inviting all the other performers on stage to help her sing her 2014 hit “One Last Time”, before she closed with a moving solo version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Fans seemed to have forgotten any lingering fears about security towards the end of the evening, with a lively crowd of middle-aged fans singing “Tonight, I’m a rock and roll star” as they made their way out of the stadium.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan and James Dalgleish)


  1. ^ Mark Hanrahan (

Massive security as France goes to the polls

French voters have started casting ballots for the presidential election in a tense first-round poll that is seen as a test for the spread of populism around the world. More than 60,000 polling stations opened on Sunday for voters who will choose between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable election in generations. Massive Security As France Goes To The PollsPolling stations open in Paris. (AP/Bertrand Combaldieu)

Opinion polls point to a tight race among the four top contenders vying to get into the May 7 presidential run-off that will decide who becomes France s next head of state. Polls suggest far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister, were in the lead. However, conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, appeared to be closing the gap, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Massive Security As France Goes To The PollsA voting machine displays the names of the 11 candidates. (AP/Bertrand Combaldieu) France s 10% unemployment rate, its struggling economy and security issues topped concerns for the 47 million eligible voters. If Ms Le Pen or Mr Melenchon win a spot in the run-off, it will be seen as a victory for the rising wave of populism reflected by the votes for Donald Trump and Brexit.

Massive Security As France Goes To The PollsPeople line up before casting their vote. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)

Mr Macron and Mr Fillon are committed to European unity and would reform employment rules.

Early voting began on Saturday in France s overseas territories.

Christopher Randle pleads guilty to hitting a security guard with fireworks whilst drunk

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A Dulcote2 man who threw several fireworks, hitting a quarry security guard with one, and then attacked his van before stabbing him on the finger with a metal centre punch has been given a conditional discharge by magistrates. Christopher Randle had been drinking when he launched the attack claiming he was fed up with workers from the quarry constantly tooting their horns as they drove past his caravan. The victim was shocked when he heard the first firework going over the top of his van, and when he got out to see what was happening a second one was set off and hit him on the right side of his body.

When the defendant later returned holding a metal object he hit out with it, connecting with the security guard’s hand causing an injury to his finger.

And when he appeared before Somerset3 Magistrates he said he had got a bit too drunk and was just “having a bit of fun”.

READ MORE: Who has been in court in Somerset this week: murder, animal cruelty and sex offences cases

Randle, 50, of Bishops Park Way, pleaded guilty to assaulting Gavin Molloy by beating him and causing damage to his Iphone at Dulcote on March 13 when he appeared before the court5 at Yeovil6. Emma Lenanton, prosecuting, said that Mr Molloy was working as a security guard at a quarry near Wells when he was approached by Randle at the main gate and a verbal disagreement took place between them. “A short time later the victim was sat in his van when he saw a firework go over the top of his vehicle so he got out and saw Randle stood in the direction it had come from,” she said.

“A second firework was set off which hit Mr Molloy on the right hand side of his body but no injury was caused, and it then hit the back of his van so he got back inside and locked the door. “Randle walked towards the door and tried to open it and then started kicking and banging the window before walking away.” The defendant then returned and went back to the driver’s door and the victim could see he had a metal object in his hand and he started to hit the window with it.

READ MORE: Phillip Cullen avoids prison after killing endangered species in Somerset and Gloucestershire7

Mr Molloy called his manager who rang the police and he then got out of the van and could see Randle still had the object.

He had his Iphone in his hand and the defendant then hit out with the centre punch, connecting with the victim’s hand and finger and causing his phone to be knocked onto the ground cracking the screen. The victim’s manager arrived at the scene and assisted him in restraining Randle, removing the metal object, and the police then arrived and arrested him. During interview the defendant said he had taken co-codamol and drunk around eight pints of cider and was heavily under the influence of alcohol.

“He said it did it just for fun and told the police he was simply trying to wind the security guard up,” added Miss Lenanton. In a statement made by Mr Molloy he said that his finger was still sore a few days after the incident and he had to pay 150 for a new screen for his Iphone. Randle told the court that he had got a bit drunk and the offence was just “stupidity”.

READ MORE: Man wanted in connection with large fight in Weston-super-Mare that left man with head injuries8

He said: “The security guards had been tooting their horns at me on a previous occasion and I was just too drunk and got stupid and wound him up to have a bit of fun, however I understand it’s serious,” he said.

“I want to apologise as I was being very silly and it is all a bit vague as I have a bit of an alcohol problem. “I live in a caravan round the corner from the quarry and three cars have been tooting their horns at me and were winding me up, so I wound them up after finding a few fireworks I had left over from Christmas.” The magistrates imposed a six month conditional discharge on Randle and ordered him to pay 150 compensation to Mr Molloy for the damage to his phone along with 85 costs and an 85 victim surcharge.

Christopher Randle Pleads Guilty To Hitting A Security Guard With Fireworks Whilst Drunk


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