I met my friends at
72nd St and Central Park West around
3:30, and we made our way down the half-mile-long chute to get onto the Great
Lawn. Divided into six pens, we were
corralled into the front of Pen 3 (left side, middle). It was the furthest back I've ever been for a
concert, but seeing how far the crowd went behind us at the end of the night,
we had a great spot.
A gigantic stage with a large circular screen framed by a proscenium of the Global Poverty Project's red O logo, sat imposingly at the north end of the lawn. I went to grab food before it got too crowded, so I missed most of Katie Couric's greeting, but I did make it back in time to see Beyoncé's music video for "I Was Here." Which is a relief, considering it was the biggest waste of time of the night. Not only had I seen it at work before, but why was I watching a fucking music video when the opening act only got to play for 15 minutes?!?
Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan kicked things off with "In the Beginning," banging on a drum in front of him as he shouted the lyrics. He then played new song "The Seed," which traced his origins to a refugee camp in
Surprise guest John Legend appeared at a piano stage left and said, "You might have heard this song before. It was written by a guy named John Lennon." He led the crowd in a singalong of "Imagine" and was gone just as quickly as he'd arrived.
Worried that they'd just do the same setlist as they did when I saw them at Catalpa (and that they've been playing for a year now), I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Black Keys perform "She's Long Gone," which has normally been reserved for encores. The appearance of "Gold on the Ceiling" later in the set, where it belongs, was also a nice change. The biggest Patrick Carney flub occurred during the second part of "Little Black Submarines," where he couldn't keep cadence. In contrast, Dan Auerbach mastered his guitar solo on "Tighten Up" for one of their best performances. Having played with their band for the whole set, they finished as a duo with "I Got Mine."
The crowd reached critical mass before Foo Fighters. It was probably the wrong time to bring out UNICEF ambassador Selena Gomez to speak on eliminating the number of preventable deaths of children. People around me started booing her for being a better person than they will ever be. Audience members talked over the presenters throughout the evening, however, proving that the organizers should have cranked up the audio on the activists so more would pay attention to what this was really about.
Just before 7:30, Dave Grohl took the stage alone in front of an illuminated Foo Fighters logo on the back screen. "I'm not playing for you; I'm playing with you tonight," he announced to the army of fans, and began strumming the opening chords of "Times Like These." The band made their way onto the stage halfway through the song to finish it out with him, and then amped it up with the balls-to-the-wall "All My Life," igniting a mosh pit nearby. They segued into "My Hero," which had the whole crowd singing its triumphant chorus. Grohl admitted, "I wish we could play all night, you know what I mean?" Cheers. "But I'd rather see Neil Young," he laughed maniacally. He went on to explain that they didn't know when they'd be performing next, and decided this would be the perfect last show until then. They followed "Learn to Fly" with three songs from Wasting Light and a so-so "Best of You." "I don't know when we'll see ya, but we'll see ya around," Dave remarked before they launched into their normal closer "Everlong."The crowd thinned a little after Foo Fighters, but those who left missed the highlight of the evening. Topping their set from last week's Farm Aid, Neil Young and Crazy Horse played a blistering mix of new songs from the upcoming Psychedelic Pill, and classics like the 15-minute opener "Love & Only Love." Young, Poncho, and Billy Talbot huddled together in the center of the stage, churning out waves of distortion into the crisp night air. Before playing new tune "Born in
K’NAAN – 09.29.12 – CENTRAL PARK, GLOBAL FESTIVAL (15 minutes)
In the Beginning / The Seed / Wavin’ Flag
BAND OF HORSES – 09.29.12 – CENTRAL PARK, GLOBAL FESTIVAL (20 minutes)
Knock Knock > The Great Salt Lake / No One’s Gonna Love You / The Funeral
JOHN LEGEND – 09.29.12 – CENTRAL PARK, GLOBAL FESTIVAL (6 minutes)
THE BLACK KEYS – 09.29.12 – CENTRAL PARK, GLOBAL FESTIVAL (52 minutes)
Howlin’ for You / Next Girl / Run Right Back / Same Old Thing / Dead & Gone / Little Black Submarines / Money Maker / Strange Times / Nova Baby / She’s Long Gone > Tighten Up / Gold on the Ceiling / Lonely Boy / I Got Mine
FOO FIGHTERS – 09.29.12 – CENTRAL PARK, GLOBAL FESTIVAL (51 minutes)
Times Like These / All My Life > My Hero / Learn to Fly > Arlandria / These Days > Walk / Best of You / Everlong
NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE – 09.29.12 – CENTRAL PARK, GLOBAL FESTIVAL (1 hour, 10 minutes)
Love & Only Love / Powderfinger / Born in Ontario / Walk Like a Giant / The Needle & the Damage Done / Twisted Road / Fuckin’ Up / Rockin’ in the Free World