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Dear Parents of Manchester

Please accept my condolences for your losses.

I am a parent, a fan of live music, and a lover of your city – in no order.  The news from last night was painful, even from 5000 km away. 

When I heard of what happened in Manchester last night, my first thoughts were of the fans and the music.  But within a different context of past years, when I took in as many bios of Morrissey and Marr, videos of Bez dancing on stage, or the descriptions of the way Ian Brown held a microphone as I could.  

I thought of your city within the context of being a father who wishes to teach his daughters about the origins of truly great music.  I thought of how hearing my 10 year old singing “Regret” led to conversations explaining how the sudden death of Ian Curtis would give us New Order.  I thought of my two girls singing “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” in the back seat of my car.  My youngest daughter is named Noelle, after Noel Gallagher, though my wife would swiftly dispute that claim.  I owe your city a great debt for all of the music it has given me to teach my daughters with.

I was given this very gift at a young age.  As I grew through my teenage years, that gift would turn into an insatiable desire to chase bands and go to shows.  Going to a concert was so special to me: the collective gasp and then roar of the crowd when the lights go out and the band walks on.  The in-between-song stories, thank-yous and flattery to the city that hosted the band.  The galvanizing effect of the entire crowd singing every word of a song YOU love back to the artist who wrote it.  Those moments have filled my heart over the years.  They have given me great joy, and also taken away tremendous pain in the moments I have needed it most.  

I have traveled across the world in search of those moments.  I have met wonderful people with whom I have shared those special moments.  I have forged relationships that have spanned decades because of those moments, and I owe it all to the music.

My daughters are at the age where we had planned to start exposing them to these live events so I could pass on the gift that I was given.  And then last night happened.  You sent your sons and daughters to participate in this very kind of event that I have come to love so much, and the worst kind of tragedy happened; an assault on the most innocent among us.

As your city mourns the losses of your sons and daughters, I have no words that can assuage you of your broken hearts and fear.  None anyway that can be printed with any dignity on social media.  I hope you will find peace soon.  I hope that the very music that brought your sons and daughters together on that horrible night will help them heal.  I hope your city will shine again.

But I will give you this: you have my commitment that I will not be swayed by that terrible thing that happened.  We will go to shows.  We will scream our lungs out until it fills the room.  We won’t dishonour your children by hiding ours.  We will continue to love the music that your city gave us.

May your smiles shine on. 

Dan Balm 

Toronto, Canada

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