Around a dozen or so years ago, my ex-partner’s teenage daughter was delighted when she managed to get her mitts on tickets to see Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera at what I seem to remember being the MTV Music Awards. This was something I would have paid good money to avoid but she was hugely excited by the chance to attend and when the time arrived she enjoyed her night thoroughly.

Of course, it made me happy to see her obvious joy before and afterwards.

Relatively speaking, I’m usually pretty good at shaking off national tragedies but the events on Monday night at the Manchester Arena were so inhumane that it’s proved almost impossible to get the tragedy out of my head and the very thought of what unfolded means my mood shows no sign of lifting – reading about Eilidh MacLeod, a fourteen year old schoolgirl from the Isle of Barra, who in the past few hours has been confirmed as dead is simply heartbreaking and how her family or the families of any of the victims cope with their losses is just about beyond me.

‘Eilidh was vivacious and full of fun,’ her parents said in a statement. ‘She loved all music whether it was listening to Ariana or playing the bagpipes with her pipe band.’

Just to make things even more depressing, it’s hard not to suspect that similar massacres will take place in concert venues across Britain in the future with shows by the likes of Ariana Grande being the most likely to be specifically targeted due to their appeal to mainly girls and young women.

As James Harkin noted yesterday in a Billboard essay on Islamic State’s hatred of women and war on western music: ‘To them, the empowered sexuality of a singer like Ariana Grande appears to have been a dangerous, godless combination — one which their self-appointed witch-finder went to murderous lengths to put back in a box.’

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Manchester is a town that I have only a few connections with, I once had a short play showcased there at the Contact Theatre on Oxford Road and I review films for a website based in the city. I’ve only visited three times but on each of these occasions I’ve had a fantastic time and found the locals, like Glaswegians, to be a friendly bunch. Manchester is also, pound for pound, my favourite British music city from big names like The Buzzcocks, Fall, Smiths and Stone Roses through to less widely known acts such as Easterhouse and King of the Slums.

Come to think of it, during the 1980s, you could argue that more good music originated in Manchester and its surrounding area than anywhere else on the planet.

Here’s something from that decade. Recorded over the course of two days back in June 1988 at Manchester’s Moonraker Studios and featuring a very brief Derek and Clive sample, this is Moss Side born A Guy Called Gerald and Voodoo Ray:

 
RIP The victims of Manchester Arena.

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