Ariana Grande‘s tour photographer is opening up about the concert that changed the singer’s life.
“The bomb went off about one minute after Ariana performed her final song, ‘Dangerous Woman.’ I was packing up my gear in front of the stage when I heard a boom. I looked back and saw people running; I thought one of the light rigs must’ve fallen. Then I went backstage and everyone was screaming, ‘We gotta get out of here!’ I had no idea what was happening,” the photographer — also a pal to Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber — said.
“Once we were safely on the bus, I saw my family and friends were texting me, because in America, all they heard was ‘explosion’ and ‘Ariana Grande concert,'” he added. “There were a lot of tears, a lot of people were super shaken up, including Ariana.”
Grande suspended her tour immediately following the attack to honor the victims and their families. On June 4, 12 days after the bombing, she returned to Manchester to perform at the star-studded “One Love” tribute concert, which she and mega-manager Scooter Braun organized. Then, on June 7, she resumed her Dangerous Woman Tour.
“Ariana was nervous, of course, but she was also excited to get back on the road, and so were we. We didn’t want terror to win, we didn’t want to live in fear, because that’s the whole point of terrorism,” said Flores, who notes Grande wanted to return to the stage to inspire fans.
“I’m convinced that experience happened to Ariana Grande, specifically, for a reason. I can’t say that if it was another artist they wouldn’t have continued with the tour, but I do know that Ariana is super, super brave,” he added. “Her entire show is about spreading love, from beginning to end, so the fact that something that ugly happened on that tour, I feel like it happened for a reason. And she set an example for all of us that fear doesn’t have to win. I don’t know if that’s something every 24-year-old would be able to push through.”
In the interview, Flores also revealed what Grande is like behind the scenes. And — spoiler alert — “she isn’t some demanding diva.”
“Our life on tour isn’t crazy either. Ariana doesn’t drink, there’s no drugs, we have a lot of chill game nights and we just laugh until late into the night. My favorite part about Ariana is she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” he said.
Added Flores: “And she’s all about spreading a message, every single show she’s encouraging so many young people to stand up for themselves. She’s encouraging people to be who they are, she’s such an advocate for the LGBT community, for feminism, for women. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind.”