The sixth annual Global Citizen Festival saw some 60,000 taking to Central Park’s Great Lawn. Some of music’s biggest hitters made an appearance, and this turned out to be an event defined by a phenomenal blend of thrilling showmanship and touching tribute.
Picking out our five best wasn’t easy, but here goes.
- Stevie Wonder
You can’t talk about this year’s Global Citizen Festival without talking about Stevie Wonder’s spellbinding headlining act. Classics such as “Living for the City”, “Higher Ground,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” were delivered with unbelievable precision and vitality, and “My Cherie Amour” and “We Are the World” become euphoric singalongs. The highlight of highlights was Pharrell Williams joining Wonder for “Get Lucky” and “Happy.”
- The Killers
Brandon Flowers never falters as a frontman, and the Killers managed to turn their mid-afternoon set into an act that felt like a showstopper. It was wonderfully hit-filled, bringing classics like “Mr. Brightside,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Read My Mind,” and “When You Were Young”. It could have seemed like an overly safe option, but it was the perfect set to unexpectedly revitalize the tired crowds.
- The Lumineers
Of course, the Global Citizen Festival has always been about helping and awareness as much as the music, and no act bought that fact home harder than The Lumineers, whose rousing folk-rock set was punctuated by advocation for hurricane relief aid across the Caribbean. The band was even joined by Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and the act closed with an inspiring cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
- Andra Day
It can be hard for artists to resist the urge to become overly emotional when the crowd are thirsting after the crowd-pleasers, especially at such huge festivals. It’s stirring when someone manages to reinvent the rules, and Andra Day performed that role to perfection with an opening of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” accompanied by the names of lynching victims flashing on a screen behind her. This year’s Global Citizen Festival, given the current state of the world, was always going to be more charged with social and political thought than ever, but Andra Day managed to define the event with her slow-burning opening, not to mention a thunderous performance of Queen’s “I Want it All.”
- Green Day
You’d be forgiven for considering Green Day’s political rhetoric a little sophomoric and played out, but their set spanned an unmissable greatest hits list, culminating with the rapturous sincerity of “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”