A Starry Central Park Comeback Concert Is Silenced by Lightning

It was to be an excellent celebration of New York City’s resurgence after greater than a yr of pandemic misery – a live performance that introduced hundreds of vaccinated followers to the Great Lawn of Central Park on Saturday night time to listen to an all-star lineup.

And for the primary few hours it was sandwiched with messages of New York’s resilience between performances by the New York Philharmonic, Jennifer Hudson, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J, and Earth, Wind and Fire, amongst others.

But shortly after 7.30pm, when Barry Manilow carried out “Can’t Smile Without You”, a lightning bolt introduced the live performance to a standstill. “Please discover shelter in your security,” mentioned an announcer, stopping the music as folks started to go away the park.

The crowd was despatched dwelling and the live performance was abruptly interrupted. Despite the anticipated Hurricane Henri, which might land within the space on Sunday, officers had been hoping to renew the efficiency when the climate allowed, and CNN, which had aired the live performance, was searching for time. Many of the headliners, together with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and Maluma, had been nonetheless to carry out once they had been canceled. But shortly earlier than 10.30 p.m. the present was lastly canceled.

The live performance had began with a ray of solar breaking by means of the clouds simply earlier than it began at 5 p.m. Gayle King, a “CBS This Morning” presenter, began the night by thanking key staff who dragged the town by means of the darkest days of the pandemic.

“We had been as soon as the epicenter of this virus and now we’re the epicenter of restoration,” she mentioned. “We collect for a standard function: to say, ‘Welcome again, New York City!'”

She launched the New York Philharmonic, who opened the live performance with the overture to Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”, carried out by Marin Alsop, a Bernstein protégé. The orchestra then performed a medley of New York music, together with excerpts from Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” and “Theme From ‘New York, New York’,” the anthem made well-known by Frank Sinatra, amongst others.

The We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, broadcast stay on CNN, was a part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to have a good time the town’s comeback after the ache and struggling of the pandemic.

When the live performance was introduced by Mr de Blasio in June, falling coronavirus case numbers and rising vaccination numbers had crammed the town with hope.

But circumstances have modified considerably previously two months. The proliferation of the extremely contagious Delta variant has brought about some metropolis companies to delay returning to their places of work, prompted the town to introduce vaccination rules for indoor eating and leisure, and threatened to destabilize the broader live performance enterprise.

On June 7, the day the live performance was introduced, the town averaged 242 instances a day; the every day common is now greater than 2,000 instances per day.

While the Philharmonic was nonetheless on stage, the live performance continued with Andrea Bocelli, the Italian star tenor, who sang “O Sole Mio”, and Jennifer Hudson, the star of the brand new Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect”, the Puccinis Sang “Nessun Dorma” – a beloved aria related to Franklin after she sang it on the 1998 Grammy Awards.

As the group poured in, the thought of ​​a New York return – whether or not a two-fisted defeat of a viral enemy or an early declaration of victory – was on everybody’s lips.

“This is our reopening – that is our invitation to return again to actual life,” mentioned Dean Dunagan, 52, of the Lower East Side, who had come to see Mr. Springsteen and waited 4 and a half years in entrance of the park, hours earlier than the gates opened .

“New York received slapped within the face each 20 years or no matter,” mentioned Mr Dunagan, “and we stand up instantly.”

Only a couple of meters away was Alexandra Gudaitis, a 24-year-old Paul Simon fan from the Upper West Side. “I’m afraid this will probably be a mass spreader occasion with the Delta,” she mentioned.

Even so, she was one of many first followers to step by means of the door and storm to the entrance of the overall admission part with a couple of pals. They wore masks and Ms. Gudaitis mentioned they selected their seat as a result of it appeared to have higher entry to contemporary air.

Some of the acts had weak ties with New York. But rap pioneer LL Cool J led a New York-centric ode to old-school hip-hop in Busta Rhymes, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, French Montana, Melle Mel, and Rev. Run of Run-DMC.

The Homecoming Show required everybody 12 and older to supply proof that they’d obtained at the least one dose of a vaccine. Children below this age who should not but eligible for the vaccines had been required to put on masks.

“When it involves the concert events, they’re outdoors – they’re just for vaccinated folks,” the mayor mentioned on Wednesday. “We undoubtedly encourage the usage of masks. But I actually need to emphasize that the entire key right here is vaccination. “

The Central Park present got here after the town hosted free hip-hop exhibits for per week, with native heroes like Raekwon and Ghostface Killah in Staten Island and KRS-One, Kool Moe Dee and Slick Rick within the Bronx. The Great Lawn live performance required tickets – most had been free, however VIP packages price as much as $ 5,000 – and the present was broadcast on CNN on TV and on SiriusXM on satellite tv for pc radio.

The live performance was programmed by Clive Davis, the 89-year-old musician, who this week emphasised the position of music in shaping society in an interview.

“It’s necessary and necessary that New York comes again,” he mentioned.

Mr. Davis, who joined Columbia Records in 1960 as an legal professional with no prior music expertise and rose to the rank of President earlier than planning profitable comebacks for stars on the Arista and J labels, mentioned he was entrusted with Mr. was contacted. de Blasio in May on placing the present collectively. His first name was to Mr. Springsteen.

“I picked up the cellphone and advised him we had been going to have a good time New York City,” Davis recalled. “He mentioned he would present up and do a duet.” (The proposed duet was with Patti Smith on “Because the Night,” a 1978 tune they co-wrote.)

From the stage on Saturday night time, Mr. Davis, a local of Brooklyn, made a plea to the viewers: “Tonight, I simply ask one factor: When you are having a good time, cheer loudly – loud sufficient for them to listen to you all Away in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. “

The shortened live performance got here at an unsure time for the music business. While some excessive profile artists together with Garth Brooks, BTS and Nine Inch Nails not too long ago canceled tour dates, the present runs largely within the stay music enterprise – nevertheless it hasn’t been simple. Concert transcripts in New York and elsewhere have been in flux for months as federal companies, native governments and companies have tailored to the altering realities of the virus.

Broadway requires masks and vaccination information when its theaters reopen, and Los Angeles County not too long ago introduced that masks are required at main out of doors occasions akin to baseball video games at Dodger Stadium and concert events on the Hollywood Bowl.

Mr de Blasio defended the conduct of the live performance, noting that it was held open air and for vaccinated folks, though another occasions had been canceled. For instance, this yr’s West Indian American Day parade in Brooklyn, which was scheduled for Labor Day Weekend, has been canceled.

The live performance business’s eyes had been on Chicago, the place the Lollapalooza Festival drew 400,000 guests over 4 days in late July and early August, fearing it would flip right into a “superspreader” occasion. The pageant, which was held open air, required attendees to supply proof of vaccination or a unfavorable check. Last week, the town mentioned 203 individuals who attended the present examined constructive afterwards and that no hospital admissions or deaths have been reported.

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