Global Citizen's GLOBAL FESTIVAL - Part II
|A jumbo-screen at New York City's |
Global Citizen Festival
It was one of those events for which words can't really do it justice. How does one describe the electricity in the air when Neil Young invites all the younger bands to join him back on stage to sing "Rockin' in the Free World" for the finale of a four-hour concert?
|Neil Young, right, with members of Crazy Horse, as seen on|
one of the concert's jumbo screens.
Moreover, how do you describe the weight of that moment, after learning that Young is a polio survivor and hearing the NGO leader who introduces him ask that, after we eradicate polio, would "Neil come back and sing again, this time changing the words to one of his songs for just one night to, "Rockin' in the Polio-Free World' "?
You can't really describe it.
You had to be there.
Yet, given that this concert was streamed online to countries all over the globe, the truth is, a lot of the people watching weren't there. This begs a question: If someone is watching this through a computer screen, millions of miles away, does the event have the same effect?
One would certainly hope so. The technology used to broadcast this sort of concert has gotten extremely sophisticated (just consider the Oscars. When Meryl Streep accepts an award, you almost feel as though you're sitting in the Kodak Theater with the celebrities in the audience - no?). But did viewers of this sit at their computers for the full, four-hour event -- all the way till the last moments of the concert? Did they last to hear Young join forces with the other musicians? I have to wonder...
I also had to wonder if other people in the live audience felt the same way I did. Did they notice the gravity of what we were witnessing? The two friends who had joined me for the concert were getting fidgety by the time Young came on, three hours in. And after he began playing and they realized they didn't recognize any of his music (unlike me, their parents were not classic rock fans), they decided to head out "to beat the crowds." In the day-and age of the 75-minute movie, perhaps 180 minutes is about the time when anyone who isn't a die-hard music fan begins to tap out.
One of the reasons the concert lasted so long was that in the change-over between each act, various celebrities came on stage to present humanitarian awards to individuals from a round the world who were making a difference to fight the effects of poverty in their own communities. Interspersed among these presentations were videos about massive challenges that communities face in various countries around the world. These were often followed by a video about the person from that community being presented with an award that night.
|Dave Grohl performing with the |
Foo Fighters. / Photo courtesy of VH1
I suppose there will always be twenty-somethings that just want to hear good music. But I also like to believe that there were thousands of concert goers last Saturday who recognize what the festival producers wanted us to recognize - both how far we've come in finding solutions to the world's most pressing social problems, and the opportunity we have we have now to finalize such solutions. And some day, maybe everyone will get to rock in the free world.