It started off pretty well.
In the heart of New York, on the great lawn of Central Park, the weather was overcast until We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, a genre show produced by the city itself, in partnership with legendary music director Clive Davis and Live Nation.
Two minutes before the 5pm kick-off, the clouds parted and, hallelujah, the hot sun shone, sitting there in the sky as bright as co-host Gayle King’s flowing yellow dress. The only way the view of the sun would have been more welcome was if the Teletubbies’ baby was inside.
Perhaps, however, it was a metaphor. After all, the show was designed to herald the return to city life in the face of the coronavirus, a Big Apple-style punch in particular. That was the city’s way of saying: we made it. It’s finish. Had finished. The happy days are back.
And what programming to announce these happy new days: Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Jennifer Hudson. The extent of the list for a five-hour show seemed unlikely and all forms of music were represented, from the silky sounds of Barry Manilow to rapper Polo G. It was star-studded lineup, as diverse as the city it was. supposed to celebrate. , designed for an audience of fully vaccinated people. It was a condition of entry and the wonders of vaccines were shouted out over and over.
“New York is now the epicenter of the recovery,” King exclaimed. “Slowly New Yorkers started doing what we do. We find a way.
The New York Philharmonic ensemble, which opened the whole affair, soaking up the cool rays, sped off at full speed through a cheerful mix of New York-related songs, starting with the soundtrack of the orchestra of the streets, Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, leading into both New York, New York (musical version courtesy of Leonard Bernstein) and (Theme of) New York, New York (the Frank Sinatra version).
“I’m going to make a whole new start,” the original song says. Allusions to the outgoing and incoming New York governors aside, it was a triumphant message.
Andrea Bocceli is out, with goosebumps renditions of You’ll Never Walk Alone and O Sole Mio, her flute talent being a surprise. Not to be outdone, Jennifer Hudson, also supported by the Philharmonic, delivered a perfect Nessun Dorma. Poignantly, it was a song by Aretha Franklin, which Hudson plays on screen in the Respect biopic, once delivered in a memorable way.
But as the mood remained festive on stage (and how could it not, especially when Run DMC releases an exhilarating performance of It’s Tricky), ominous clouds were forming.
No, I’m not talking about the impending Hurricane Henri, a historic storm set to hit the Northeastern United States, with New York City under tropical storm watch and the people of Long Island gearing up. to a major impact.
And no, I’m not referring to the pervasive concerns about the Delta variant and rising infection rates, threatening to blow a pin in the idea of a return to normal as Neil Young artists. (who recently ditched their own Farm Aid, citing the virus) at BTS (the K-Pop group announced they were canceling the remaining 34 dates of their world tour) to rethink the tour’s immediate future. A few blocks from Central Park, Broadway is expected to come back in full swing next month.
Here on the Great Lawn, the clouds forming here were real stormy clouds. In the distance, a mass of smoldering darkness. The outer boroughs were soaked and revelers in the park began to take notice. In an essential show attitude, the artists and presenters kept the atmosphere optimistic.
Mayor Bill De Blasio, so regularly booed that he has to be a masochist to keep speaking at public events, happily pointed out that another of the performers of the day, Earth, Wind and Fire, was an act he and his wife danced at their wedding. .
As De Blasio’s de facto alliance released its indelible September fall classic – albeit 10 days too early – the skies began to sink. Participants began to prepare umbrellas, film crews and the national press covered their equipment with plastic bags. The dominant attitude was, “Hey, a little rain won’t hurt us. We are New Yorkers, after all.
But around 2 a.m., at 7:15 p.m., a lightning strike struck nearby, causing the crowd to gasp. While there was no doubt that a furious decision-making was taking place behind the scenes, the MC of the evening, DJ Cassidy, assured everyone that the show would continue. Then, as if the audience were transported to a smoky cabaret, Manilow appeared before a rousing instrumental introduction before moving on to Copacabana, the most carefree of carefree songs.
As Manilow hopped around the stage and the rain kept pouring in, at 7:30 p.m. the speaker system suddenly cut off. The Manilow band continued to play Can’t Smile Without You, so only they could hear it.
After a while, an announcement: “Please pay attention to the following security message. Due to the approach of inclement weather, all people should move quickly and calmly to the nearest exit.
The drops grew larger, soaking the crowd. The show was cut short an hour and a half earlier before Springsteen, Simon and Patti Smith could take the stage.
A show intended to announce the return of New York was canceled mid-term.
Hopefully it wasn’t a metaphor.