Pharrell Williams, Coldplay, Shakira Provide Alternative to Trump, Riots at G20 Summit


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the pop stars at a free concert ahead of the global economic meeting, which kicked off with anti-Trump protests.

While protestors rioted outside, Coldplay and Shakira brought the house down.

When the Colombian pop superstar joined Coldplay singer Chris Martin onstage Thursday night, the crowd at Hamburg's Barclaycard Arena went wild. The pair, headliners at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival, spent nearly an hour singing duets of each other's hits, including Coldplay's "Yellow" and Shakira's "Chantaje."

It was the highlight of the event, and a peaceful alternative to the violent protests taking place just a few blocks away, as anti-Trump and anti-globalization demonstrators clashed with German police.

Taking place on the eve of the G20 economic summit, which runs Friday and Saturday in Hamburg, the Global Citizen Festival also featured performances by Pharrell Williams, Ellie Goulding and German pop stars Herbert Gronemeyer and Andreas Bourani.

The concert was free — tickets were raffled off to fans who could prove their political engagement via such actions as signing online petitions or tweeting politicians on social issues.

Several politicians in town for the summit participated in the event, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who introduced Coldplay with a short speech calling for greater commitment to gender equality.

“The issues we face globally — climate change, poverty, and disease — disproportionately affect women and girls,” Trudeau said. “Their voices and experiences must be at the center of our efforts if we are to find real and lasting solutions.”

Some 12,000 demonstrators swarmed Hamburg on Thursday, taking part in anti-G20 protests, ably titled "Welcome to Hell." The great majority of the demonstrations were peaceful, but a group of up to 1,000 people battled with police. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at the cops, who responded with water cannons and pepper spray. Hamburg police reported that more than 60 officers and an unknown number of protestors were injured.

The demonstrations continued Friday, with several groups trying to shut down access to the G20 headquarters at Hamburg's Messehallen Convention Center. Police used water cannons to clear one blockade by protestors in the early morning before the official start of the G20.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Hamburg on Thursday night and met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. Trump flew to Hamburg directly from Poland, where he was warmly welcomed by the country's right-wing government and a local crowd cheering enthusiastically as the president outlined his commitment to NATO and to "defending Western values."

Many observers questioned why the heads of the 20 largest industrial nations decided to hold their annual conference in Hamburg, a city known to be a hotspot of left-wing activism. Attempts to block protestors from entering the city, or from staying long, have been largely unsuccessful. Hamburg introduced a no-camping ban to try and prevent protestors from pitching tents in parks, but local residents have stepped up to provide housing, and local soccer club FC St. Pauli set up 200 beds in its stadium for anti-globalization protestors.