Almost four months after the devastating terrorist incident at the Ariana Grande concert, Manchester Arena is set to re-open. And the concert venue will open its doors to the public on September 9 in the most joyful way possible — with "Never Going To Give You Up" singer Rick Astley playing. (Though '90s kids may know him better as the star of that video you got redirected to after clicking on a trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV.) But here's the lemons to that lemonade: he's not actually headlining the concert.
But let's rewind for a second. For those who missed the meme and are wondering what rickrolling is, it was the most nefarious (but ultimately harmless) use of Astley's greatest hit. It involved posting a link that seems totally relevant to whatever discussion is going on, but, when the rickrolling victim clicks on it, gets redirected to the video for "Never Gonna Give You Up." The joke got pretty big on April Fool's Day in 2008, when every featured video on YouTube's homepage redirected to Astley's hit.
The goofy prank means that the British musician's song has received millions of streams (though tragically, according to Mental Floss, Astley himself has made a mere $12 on rickrolling). While the song clearly has its humorous element, thanks to its connotation with the meme, ultimately, much like "Look Back In Anger," it's an emotional tribute to keepin' on keeping on (and can be interpreted more broadly than in a purely romantic context). As such, it makes sense that the 51-year-old should perform at the show.
However, the headlining honor has been given to Manchester local Noel Gallagher, whose brother and former bandmate Liam responded in outrage when the 50-year-old wasn't available to play the One Love benefit concert in June 2017, tweeting "Noels out of the f*cking country weren't we all love get on a f*cking plane and play your tunes for the kids." While the concert organizers defended the musician at the time, pointing out that there had never been any plan for Noel or Oasis to perform and stressing that Gallagher had donated the royalties from his song "Don't Look Back In Anger" to the fund and gave them permission to use his songs, potentially this may have still been controversial.
That might be why the elder Gallagher brother could be headlining along with his High Flying Birds band. Other acts playing include British bands the Courteeners, Blossoms, and local poet Tony Walsh. Of course, it makes complete sense for Noel to be headlining the benefit show, too. His song, "Don't Look Back In Anger," became associated with the city's healing process following the attack when a crowd spontaneously broke out into singing the anthem following a one minute's silence memorial ceremony at St. Ann's Square in the center of the city.
The Manchester Evening News reports that the proceeds from the concert will go to the Manchester Memorial Fund, a new charity established by the Lord Mayor of the city that will use the funds to create a permanent memorial to commemorate the tragedy. Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, clarified that "plans for the form and location of any permanent commemorations will be determined in liaison with the families of victims and others affected by the attack."
The horrifying loss of life that took place on May 22 should never be forgotten. With the funds raised from this benefit concert, the victims of the attack should be commemorated in a way that inspires the city dwellers to look forward and embrace hope, not hate.