Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Neil Young Rock Central Park for Global Citizen Fest: Concert Review
Great Lawn, Central Park
New York City
As musically vital as it was socially meaningful, Saturday night’s Global Citizen Festival represented the hardest rock show to hit Central Park’s Great Lawn in years. Featuring Neil Young, Foo Fighters, the Black Keys, Band of Horses and K’Naan, the five-hour show thrilled the roughly 60,000 attendees packed into the park on a beautiful if forbidding autumn night.
Designed to spotlight global poverty and myriad other social issues, the show also featured an array of talking heads, ranging from scientists, philanthropists and activists to such politically minded celebs as Katie Couric, Olivia Wilde, Selena Gomez, Archie Panjabi and Sophia Bush.
Somali/Canadian rapper K’Naan kicked off the proceedings with his unique brand of African-inflected, politically-tinged hip-hop. He was followed by Band of Horses, whose set, featuring such songs as “Knock Knock,” “Great Salt Lake” and “The Funeral,” was marked by lead singer Ben Bridwell’s self-effacing comments and clear exuberance at participating.
“Even if you don’t know who we are, I just want to thank you for listening to us,” he enthused.
In a surprise appearance, John Legend sat down at a grand piano and delivered an impassioned rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” made all the more moving by the fact that it was being performed not too far from the park’s “Strawberry Fields” memorial to the late musician.
The Black Keys delivered a hard-charging set displaying their brand of bluesy rock. Featuring such songs as “Howlin’ for You,” “Money Maker,” “Lonely Boy” and “I Got Mine,” its impact was magnified by the darkening sky filled with ominous clouds threatening a rain that thankfully never came.
Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl was clearly energized by the momentousness of the event, announcing, "I’m not playing for you, I’m playing with you." He began by performing the first part of "Times Like These" solo -- "I wrote this song for nights like this," he said -- before the rest of the band (bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins and guitarists Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett) kicked in.
At one point Grohl ominously announced, “We don’t have any shows after this ... I don't know when we'll see you but we'll see you." But before Foos fans get their panties in a break-up bunch, it's worth noting that, typically, the band takes one or two years off from touring between albums.
Neil Young and his reunited Crazy Horse finished off the night with a typically powerful 70-minute set featuring a barrage of blistering guitar solos. Besides such classics as “Love and Only Love,” “Powderfinger,” “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Fuckin’ Up,” it also included the new songs “Ontario” and “Walk Like a Giant” that blended in easily.
“We’re joining forces up here,” announced Young at the show’s conclusion, in which he was joined by the rest of the evening’s formidable line-up for a crowd-stirring “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Love and Only Love
Born in Ontario
Walk Like A Giant
The Needle and the Damage Done
Rockin’ in the Free World
Times Like These
All My Life
Learn To Fly
Best of You
The Black Keys
Run Right Back
Same Old Thing
Dead and Gone
Little Black Submarine
She’s Long Gone
Gold On The Ceiling
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