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.