The Global Citizen Festival is a music-and-message event that takes place every year on the last Saturday of September in New York’s Central Park. The mission of Global Citizen is to end “extreme global poverty” by 2030 and so to achieve that fans aren’t required to pay for tickets; instead, they take actions like writing letters to government officials and making social-media posts for points. In exchange, they get to attend the five-hour-long concert and in between, corporate sponsors, international dignitaries and celebrities give speeches and introduce videos.
This year’s eighth annual festival was headlined by Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Carole King, Pharrell Williams, One Republic, H.E.R., David Gray, French Montana, Ben Platt, K-Pop group NCT 127 and Jon Batiste & Stay Human and it was broadcast live by MSNBC and iHeart Radio. Other prominent voices on hand included host Hugh Jackman and fellow actors Natalie Portman, Dakota Johnson, Forest Whitaker, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rami Malek, Rachel Brosnahan, Taraji P. Henson and New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
Carole King, who hadn’t performed in Central Park since 1973, performed a set consisting entirely of her classic 1971 album “Tapestry” teaming up with Kelly Clarkson for “Where You Lead.” Alicia Keys, served the crowd of 60,000 the strongest performance of the day though. From “Girl on Fire” to “If I Ain’t Got You” to “Empire State of Mind (Part II),” her set included many of her biggest hits, but it was a cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” accompanied by H.E.R. on guitar and backing vocals, that proved to be her half-hour set’s highlight.
Finally, with an hour left in the program, Malek, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” earlier this year, introduced Queen and guest vocalist Adam Lambert — and the group did not disappoint. Next year’s Global Citizen will be an even more ambitious undertaking: On Thursday, the organizers announced a 10-hour event spanning five countries and featuring Keys, Metallica, Billie Eilish and many others, taking place on September 26, 2020.