The Central Park “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” was cut short Saturday, August 21 due to approaching Hurricane Henri. The announcement was made over the PA system in the middle of singer Barry Manilow’s set. Those in attendance were urged to move to the nearest exits and “proceed to outside of the park.”The concert was originally scheduled from 5pm to 10pm, but was abruptly shut down just after 8pm.
Despite the rain, concert organizer and music mogul Clive Davis along with Mayor De Blasio desperately tried to get the show restarted. Unfortunately it was to no avail as the rain was at its heaviest during 9pm and 10pm (a record-setting rainfall for Central Park). The concert was supposed to be the grand finale after a week of other homecoming concerts throughout the city.
Although We Love NYC concert was cut short, the 60,000 fans in attendance still got to witness some pretty amazing performances. “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King kicked off the show by introducing the New York Philharmonic. They performed a bunch of New York themed instrumentals including Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” featuring Billy’s former saxophone player Richie Cannata, and “Theme From New York, New York” made famous by Frank Sinatra. Then italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who himself had a recent battle with covid, joined the Philharmonic for beautiful renditions of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “O Sole Mio”. Before leaving he told the crowd “After a storm comes always the sun.” It was an emotional moment.
Also joining the Philharmonic was Jennifer Hudson who stars as Aretha Franklin in the new biopic “Respect.” As a tribute to “The Queen of Sole” she performed “Nessun Dorma” which Franklin sang at the 1998 Grammy Awards as a last minute replacement for Luciano Pavarotti. Jennifer did not disappoint. It was a wonderful tribute that Aretha herself would have been proud of.
At this point the man of the hour himself, Clive Davis came out and greeted the crowd. He also introduced one of his good friends Carlos Santana who performed “Maria, Maria” with Wyclef Jean. He also performed the 1999 hit “Smooth” with Rob Thomas.
Singer Kane Brown also made a quick appearance. He performed his 2018 hit “Homesick” as well as his 2020 single “Be Like That.”
Senator Chuck Schumer was also on hand. He introduced Journey who also played Jones Beach Theater the same night at the Never Forget 9/11 concert. There performance was explosive as lead singer Arnel Pineda belted out “Any Way you Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believing.” Yet another memorable moment.
Perhaps the best performance of the night goes to grammy award winner and hip hop legend L.L. Cool J. His set tuned into a hip hop lovers trip down memory lane. He was joined by fellow legend Rev Run as they performed the Run-DMC classic “It’s Tricky.” He also brought out Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s Scorpio and Melle Mel and performed one of the earliest hip hop songs ever recorded “The Message.” Other hip hop stars like Busta Ryhmes, Spliff Star, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, French Montana and A Boogie also contributed to Uncle L’s set.
Then, “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert came out and introduced Jon Batiste. He only performed one song, “Freedom”, but it was fantastic.
Perhaps the least favorite guest of the night was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 60,000 strong crowd greeted him with a round of boo’s, but he was able to get them back and he and his wife introduced the next performers Earth, Wind and Fire. They had recently released a new version of their hit song “You Want My Love” and performed it live for the first time with R&B start Babyface. They also sang their 1978 hit “September” with Babyface and Lucky Daye.
At this point of the show, we were starting to get warnings about the incoming weather as plastic tarps were brought out and put over the cameras and other equipment. Cnn anchor Don Lemon came out at this point and introduced Barry Manilow who was cut off in the middle of “Can’t Smile Without You.” It was just a few minutes later that the heavens opened up and New York City experienced the heaviest rain it has seen in years.
Still scheduled to perform was The Killers, Patti Smith with Bruce Springsteen, and Paul Simon who was waiting in his nearby apartment for word on weather the concert was going to resume. Unfortunately it did not resume but now Mayor De Blasio and Clive Davis are in talks to discuss a possible We Love NYC 2.0 Concert in the near future. NYSMusic.com will keep you up to date as soon as any new developments are made.