Archives For Manchester

Since 2010, Niall Horan has been on quite the rollercoaster. The Irish-born singer first came to fame on “The X-Factor” across the pond, where Simon Cowell hatched the bright idea to pair him and four other contestants together. What followed was a phenomenon: five chart-topping albums, sold-out stadium tours and millions upon millions of screaming fans.

But now Horan is signed to a different record label, releasing music as a solo artist and moving at a speed that must feel more comfortable.

“Yeah, it’s great,” when asked Horan about the pace of his new project with Capitol Records. “I kind of just made a decision that I would do everything at my own pace and I said it to my manager and to my label and they were completely supportive of it.”

Horan essentially told them that he would work on the album and he would notify them when it was finished. Update: it’s pretty much done.

“I’ll probably release it in the fall or something,” he said. “I just have to do a little bit of production stuff and it’s all kind of recorded and stuff like that.”

The Irishman doesn’t have a title yet but he has released two songs from the LP, “This Town” and “Slow Hands.” When I asked about the song selection, it sounded like the former wasn’t really intended to be a proper first single.

“I just wanted to let people know I was still doing music to be honest and it just kind of happened,” Horan explained of releasing “This Town.” “It took a life of its own.”

There was definitely a more methodical approach behind “Slow Hands.”

“I wanted to kind of beef things up a little bit and show I was a little bit more diverse,” Horan noted. “The whole album wasn’t going to be all finger-picking stuff.”

Horan started writing for the project in “March or April of last year.” The singer hopped in-and-out of the studio between days off before “This Town” started climbing the charts and the project’s timeline sped up – something Horan credits to those aforementioned fans, who have stuck with him throughout the entire ride.

The original plan was to sit down here in Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport and write a piece about last night’s Billboard Music Awards, reflecting on the fact that I covered the show for my fifth consecutive year and spent my fourth year as the on-stage warm-up act.

But I can’t stop thinking about the victims of this explosion in Manchester outside of an Ariana Grande concert that has now left 22 dead and dozens more injured.

Part of my full-time job involves facilitating on-air contests for concert tickets. I think the best part of giving away seats to shows is when the winner is genuinely a huge fan of the artist performing. In some instances, we aren’t just giving away two tickets – we’re affording people the chance to witness someone or something that they may never see in person again. Tickets, along with the associated costs (fees, transportation, parking, merchandise, food) can get expensive. So it’s very possible that people who were attending Ariana’s show last night were seeing her for the first and/or only time. Maybe they received the tickets as a birthday or Christmas gift. The kids might have been saving part-time paychecks to attend. Perhaps the parents were scraping by around the holidays just to put a smile on their kid’s face. Or maybe they got lucky, called at the right time and won them on a radio station.

I don’t care how many I get to attend or send others to: it’s not lost on me that these can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

And the night should have reflected that, from the pandemonium of Ariana taking the stage to thousands of people singing along in unison to every lyric. Concerts can provide a sense of community. Everyone in that venue could have been anywhere else but they chose to spend their time and perhaps their hard-earned cash for a common cause: to escape the world’s troubles and have fun for a few hours.

Then a senseless act of violence changed all of that. Now 19 are dead, dozens more are injured and the world is once again shocked, saddened and rendered speechless.

I’m mourning for the families who lost loved ones and praying that those injured heal quickly and fully. I’m also thinking of Ariana and her team (who are all safe and OK) along with the countless other staff members that it takes to make something like an arena concert take place.

But most of all, I wish I didn’t have to write this. I wish that Ariana was simply continuing on with her European tour after an uneventful yet successful show in Manchester. I wish that evil didn’t rear its ugly head period, let alone at a concert attended by innocent children.

I will say though, one part of my original plan will certainly stay intact: I’m reflecting on last night with an immense amount of gratitude. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and those, nor our lifetime, should ever be taken for granted.