Ariana Grande told fans she was “completely overwhelmed” as she made an emotional return to Manchester on Sunday night, two years after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at her concert in the English city.
Performing at Manchester Pride, Grande thanked people in the city for welcoming her back and admitted she was nervous during the set.
“I’m so happy to be with you, so thank you for having me,” she told the crowd, according to the UK’s Press Association (PA). “Sorry, I’m so nervous. I had so much more to say but I’m really very overwhelmed. So thank you.”
“Obviously Manchester holds a very special place in my heart,” she added.
Grande opened her brief, nine-song headline set at the city’s annual Pride celebration with “No Tears Left to Cry,” the first single she released after the 2017 terror attack.
The singer finished her performance with a stripped-down rendition of “One Last Time” – a single she re-released shortly after the incident as a tribute to the victims.
The star last performed in Manchester in June 2017 at the One Love charity concert, organized in the aftermath of the attack. She was made the first “honorary citizen” of the city days later, in recognition of her response to the event.
Twenty-two people, including children, died in the bombing on May 22, 2017, which occurred in the foyer of Manchester Arena as fans were leaving Grande’s show.
Ahead of her return on Sunday, Grande had tweeted to fans: “can’t wait to give u all our love.”
And many of those in the crowd later lauded the singer’s set on social media.
Grande also used the performance to show her appreciation to the LGBTQ community, dancing with a Pride flag during her single “Break Free” and then telling fans: “The gays have always had my heart, personally. I spent some of the happiest times of my teenage years singing in gay bars in New York City.”
The singer has previously discussed the impact of the 2017 attack, revealing last June that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident.
In 2018, eight months after the attack, she wrote in a heartfelt open letter: “The spirit of the people of Manchester, the families affected by this horrendous tragedy, and my fans around the world have permanently impacted all of us for the rest of our lives.”
“Their love, strength, and unity showed me, my team, my dancers, band, and entire crew not to be defeated… “I think of Manchester constantly and will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life,” she added.