Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Michelle Obama Thrill at Global Citizen Festival
Saturday’s Global Citizen Festival, held for more than 60,000 people on a sunny day in Central Park, gathered a mind-boggling roster of musicians, activists, world leaders, actors, CEOs, innovators and celebrity babies (Suri Cruise!) to spread the message “ours is not a generation of bystanders,” as Mark Zuckerberg put it in a video.
The event was creative directed by Coldplay’s Chris Martin and he’s signed on for the job for the next 15 years. The day began with his band, opening with “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Viva La Vida,” Martin’s onstage enthusiasm and charm infectious enough to dissipate some of the less-than-charitable vibes brought on by long entry lines. (“It’s the Secret Service, not NYPD,” defended more than one New York cop, as serious-looking security rifled through bags, confirming rumors that both Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama were in attendance.) Announcing that he hoped to earn some generational crossover cachet, Martin introduced special guest Ariana Grande (at the behest of his children), and the impeccably toned singer dueted on Grande’s “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” before Coldplay debuted new track “Amazing Day,” a midtempo ballad with Fifties doo-wop influences, shades of Ritchie Valens’ “Donna” in its heart.
Here’s a good cross-section of the day’s wild roster: before Ed Sheeran even took the stage and played powerful tracks like “Bloodstream,” the audience was treated to Stephen Colbert and Hugh Jackman cracking jokes and singing “Jeremy” before emphasizing the event’s goals of ending hunger, promoting sustainable growth and working to empower women and girls; Salma Hayek and Queen Rania of Jordan discussing the importance of assisting Syrian refugees, particularly displaced youth; a surprise performance by Tori Kelly, including a lovely cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird”; Connie Britton, Bill Nye, Katie Holmes, Suri Cruise, Kerry Washington; Leonardo diCaprio (in the flesh!) discussing the dangers of climate change; and in the day’s most surreal moment, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, in conversation with Big Bird.