After thousands of disappointed fans were forced to leave Central Park in NYC back in June for threat of dangerous weather, the Black Eyed Peas returned in full force to rock a crowd of 60,000 on the Great Lawn Friday night (Sept. 30).
It was a "good good night" for a free outdoor show, up until the rain in the last act, and Fergie thanked the crowd for their patience, exclaiming, "Lightning didn't strike twice!"
Partnering up with Chase Bank and the Robin Hood Foundation, to help end poverty in NYC, the Peas gave a high-energy, heart felt performance in the spirit of the cause.
"Robin Hood's mission is simple," said David Saltzman, executive director of Robin Hood. "Fight Poverty in NYC. This is the toughest economic time in the 23-year history of our organization." Fundraisers pledged money through text messages, and the generous crowd donated a total of $4 million by the end of the night.
"The Black Eyed Peas just get it," Saltzman said. "There's really no more extraordinary group of artists than the Black Eyed Peas."
Frontman will.i.am kicked off the show in a futuristic reflective suit with a band of robot dancers behind him, pumping up the crowd with "Rock That Body." The lights and big screen camera work was impressive, giving the show an out-of-this-world element. Members Fergie, apl.de.ap and Taboo joined him, playing off each other's energy during "I'mma be" and "Don't Stop the Party."
Fergie crooned on "Meet Me Half Way" and showed that, according to an overheard fan, "[S]he's still got it!" Her costumes ranged from a spiked shoulder padded jacket over a leotard and boots to a pink poodle skirt dress she pranced in during her solo hits "Glamorous" and "Big Girls Don't Cry." Her vocals were tight and on key, and when she opened up it was strong and impressive.
A fantastic musical moment came when the Fergie-less Peas introduced the members of the band on funky hip-hop jam "That's the Joint," which samples Frankie Valli's "Grease." George Pajon Jr. started out with a killer guitar solo, followed by a sax solo by Timmy Izo, a drum solo by Keith Harris and a trumpet solo by Printz Board, showcasing the extraordinary talent of the back band.
Will.i.am turned the Great Lawn into a rave show when he assumed the DJ booth in a silver batman suit. He spun samples of everything from "Sweet Dreams" to "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the fans loved it, throwing their Robin Hood glo-sticks into the air, making it rain green orbs on the Great Lawn.
Moments later, actual rain did come, but it didn't stop the Peas from keeping up the energy. Will.i.am jingled, "Aint nothing wrong with a little bit of rain" and Fergie embraced mother nature.
The rain's sole interruption came in the form of a speaker glitch while will.i.am talked to the crowd over the band's soft 4-chord comp. It was immediately quelled, and he continued to explain that "philanthropy is the fabric of the Black Eyed Peas." He told the story of apl.de.ap's emigration to the US from the Phillippines, and Taboo echoed in the spirit of giving, "Let's take this to my native Mexico, to the Philippines, and all over the world!"
It was an appropriate introduction to the politically charged peace plea "Where Is The Love?", which reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, and a fan sing-a-long.
The dedicated ones stuck out a ten minute wait in the rain for the encore, which included the No. 1 single "Boom Boom Pow," "The Time (Dirty Bit)," a remix of the 1987 "Dirty Dancing" hit, and finally, "I Got a Feeling." The group seemed genuinely happy to be there, ending the show in high spirits and appreciation for the enthusiastic and generous NYC crowd.