By Brian Ives
As co-host Chelsea Handler said early in the day, the Global Citizen Festival celebrated its “wood” anniversary yesterday: for the fifth year, the festival took over Central Park’s massive Great Lawn with a day’s worth of superstar performances, celebrity speakers and activists. (And shout-out to Handler for wearing a cool Judas Priest Defenders of the Faith t-shirt! And to co-host Hugh Jackman for enduring calls from the audience to “do Wolverine!”) The event is always free; fans “earn” tickets to by performing specific actions, including signing petitions, sending emails or tweets to world leaders in regards to specific causes that work towards ending extreme poverty by the year 2030.
You can learn more about Global Citizen at their website.
This year, the lineup was more diverse than ever, with Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Metallica, Demi Lovato (filling in for Selena Gomez) and Major Lazer headlining, with shorter sets by Ellie Goulding, Yusef (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens), Usher with Ruben Blades, and a superstar duo mini-set by Chris Martin of Coldplay (the curator of the Global Citizen concert lineups) and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. This resulted in the general admission show seeing Rihanna’s pop audience rubbing shoulders with Metallica’s older metal crowd; Demi Lovato’s fans next to Major Lazer’s. Everyone seemed to have their own favorite act, but everyone seemed excited to see Kendrick Lamar.
There were, as always, lots of great moments…
Yusef, aka Cat Stevens, sings “Father to Son” with Eddie Vedder: Last year, Vedder played Global Citizen with Pearl Jam, and clearly he enjoyed the experience, because he returned this year; he was beaming while performing with Yusef, who did a brief four-song set. The British folk-rock legend had one of the quotes of the day, noting that “The globe is big enough for all of us.”
Priyanka Chopra References Game of Thrones: “Just like ‘Winter is Coming,’ change is coming!” the Quantico star said, while surrounded by young women from Google’s “Made With Code” initiative. That initiative works to get more girls to study computer science in school. For more information on “Made With Code,” go to their website. Meanwhile, we have to wonder if that quip will get Chopra a role on next season of Game Of Thrones.
Metallica: “Caring Comes in All Kinds of Volumes!” At last year’s festival, the more pop-friendly acts — Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Beyonce — played before Pearl Jam brought their brand of heavy rock to the stage, which resulted in a a small exodus after Queen Bey’s set. This year, Metallica played in the middle of the day, and their brief five song set surely just whet their fans’ appetite for their forthcoming tour. However, it may have been punishing to those not versed in metal. But at the end of their second song, “Master Of Puppets,” frontman James Hetfield reminded the audience that “Caring comes in all kinds of volumes!” For the Metallica fan, their set — “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “Master Of Puppets,” “One,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman”— featured songs that they always play, but this was their first New York show in years, and the fans were amped to see them. And while nothing about the band is subtle, the messages behind “Puppets” (the dangers of drug addiction) and “One” (the horrors of war) were appropriate given how drug addiction and wars effect those in poverty.
Nancy Pelosi’s Mic-Drop Line: Congresswoman and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was introduced by FUBU founder and Shark Tank co-star Daymond John as “the highest ranking female politician in American history.” Congresswoman Pelosi responded, “But not for long!” While the event seemed intent on being non-partisan, that comment got cheers from the audience.
Eddie Vedder and Chris Martin’s Duo Set: The Pearl Jam and Coldplay frontmen teamed up to perform three songs as an acoustic duo: they covered Crowded House’s classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” Pearl Jam’s“Nothingman” and Patti Smith’s timeless “People Have the Power.” During the latter, Vedder referred to the crowd as “incredibly diverse crowd of likeminded, intelligent activists.” Like Congresswoman Pelosi, he also referenced the upcoming election: “When you see certain political candidates, an uprising of racism, of homophobia, of sexism, of bigotry, all these things raising their ugly heads. Their moldy, ugly, rusty heads, it’s a sign, and it’s a good sign: this is one last gasp. They know that these are antiquated ideals that are going away, and I think that’s why you’re seeing this last rise, because these ideals are being held in a skeleton hand. And these antiquated ideals, there’s no longer room for them in this modern world of communication, of acceptance, and understanding of others. So we can rise to the challenge, and these are challenges that, if we’re united, if we’re together, if we support organizations like this, if we look after gun control legislations in our own cities and towns… look at you! Look at you together! You have the power! We have the power! Stay active! Stay energized! Use your voice! Use your votes! And together, we can use our power for good!”
Chris Martin Covers Prince for Rihanna: Minutes after Vedder and Martin’s set, the Coldplay singer was called back to the stage, because Ri Ri just wasn’t ready to go on stage. So, he played a cover of Prince’s “Rasberry Beret,” which he had to extend, because she still wasn’t ready. “How are we doing with Rihanna?” he asked, during the song. “I don’t know any more verses!” So, he added one: “Well I was waiting for Rihanna at Central Park, waiting for her to do her show/I was assured by the producer I’d only do one song, and I ain’t got too long to go/ Maybe she’s doing her makeup, or doing her hair/or making sure that she looks nice/And if she takes too long, I’ll repeat this song/I’ll play ‘Rasberry Beret’ twice!”
See even more highlights at Radio.com.