Niall Horan was one of the several superstars that participated in the June benefit concert One Love Manchester — in support of the victims of the Manchester Arena shooting that occurred at Ariana Grande‘s concert in May — and he’ll forever remember the emotional event as one of the most surreal days of his life.
“It was emotionally up and down,” Horan told ShortList magazine, for which he’s the current cover star. “Everywhere I looked, people were dancing and having a good laugh. Then I played ‘This Town,’ and the mood changed. I caught a girl’s eyes in the crowd and she was just bawling her eyes out. During Justin Bieber’s acoustic set, policemen were dancing with kids. I’d never seen anything like it.”
He also recalls chatting with Grande herself backstage, which added to the bittersweet feeling of the evening. “She was telling me stories of visiting the hospital, meeting families of the victims, and she was clearly really emotional about what was going to happen [during the concert],” Horan added. “It hit me that this was history being made, right before our eyes. Our generation’s Live 8.”
If there’s one thing Horan took away from being part of something so moving, it was that “You can’t let a terror attack alter your way of thinking,” something that became apparent to the “Slow Hands” singer when he realized how many people had shown up. And just down the street on that June 4 night was English soccer player Michael Carrick’s testimonial at Old Trafford, which drew a crowd even bigger than the one attending One Love Manchester.
“Seventy-five thousand people at Old Trafford, 200 yards down the road from this huge 50,000-strong crowd,” Horan This is the week after a terror attack. I walked through the crowd thinking, ‘These people aren’t scared. Something monstrous has happened, but they refuse to be scared by it.’ That was really powerful to experience.”
Read Horan’s full ShortList interview here. Horan will be releasing his debut solo album, Flicker, on Oct. 20.