To reward the tens of thousands of volunteers who have put in time to help make the world a better place, the 2016 Global Citizen Festival put on a star-studded show in New York’s Central Park on Saturday (Sept. 24).
The lineup, curated by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, satisfied various genre tastes, tapping the likes of EDM act Major Lazer, heavy metal icons Metallica, rap prodigy Kendrick Lamar and headliner, pop phenom Rihanna. Martin also took the stage for a special duet with Peal Jam’s Eddie Vedder, who also delivered a passionate speech about the globe’s current state of affairs.
Big-name Hollywood stars also donated their time to the occasion including co-host, Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra, How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris, Chime For Change co-founder and actress Salma Hayek and a video appearance from First Lady of the United Michelle Obama. A diverse cast of change-makers who vowed to help bring about global goals including gender equality, peace and justice in strong governmental institutions, clean water and sanitation also took the stage for well-deserved recognition.
Relive the night through the festival’s musical highlights below.
With booty short-clad dancers in tow, festival opener Major Lazer — comprising Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionare — set the dance party off in the Great Lawn running through hits — both their own and not — including the standout “Lean On” alongside singer MØ. “Everybody wants to end world poverty, right?,” Fire asked the crowd at one point.
Ellie Goulding also joined the squad for a live rendition of the sensual joint “Powerful.” Jillionaire, who also performed at the Billboard Hot 100 Fest this past summer, offered “We’ve never done that live before. Thank you Ellie — that was beautiful.” Major Lazer then closed out the set with “Cold Water.”
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“She’s not only cool for the summer. See what I did there?” joked Neil Patrick Harris, who intro’d the singer before she rocked the stage in a shimmery, diamond encrusted two-piece number and thigh high boots. Backed by a live band, the fiery pop star opened with her self-esteem booster “Confident.”
Nick Jonas‘ summer tourmate rocked the stage solo, belting out the emotional numbers “For You” and “Stone Cold.” She then shifted her catalog to the Aretha Franklin 1967 classic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” Lovato offered, “This next song is inspired for lifting up women even before I was born and it goes out to all the women all around the world.” Her finale was the summer jam “Cool For The Summer.”
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With an introduction from Chopra, who also appeared on his recently released eighth album, Hard II Love, Usher took the Global Citizen stage, wearing a “Silence Is Consent” sweater for a live rendition of “Champions.” Alongside Panamanian singer-songwriter Ruben Blades and the Kenyan Boys Choir, the tandem brought the Hands of Stone soundtrack cut to life, as Usher urged the crowd to chant “Champions together.” According to Chopra, Usher also dipped after his set to close out Day 2 of the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.
The Kenyan Boys Choir also had the 60,000 attendees in Central Park on their feet with their energetic performance, which included the Selena Gomez number “Kill Em With Kindness.”
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Following his first four shows in New York in 40 years this past week, folk music star Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens, who changed his name after converting to Islam) strummed his heart out for the 1971 Hot 100 hit “Wild World” and brought out his “good friend” Vedder of Peal Jam for the 1970 offering “Father and Son.”
“Hopefully these kind of movements will help us to be a bit more sensitive to others and whet it feels like to be humans and to share,” the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador said during his set, “because this world is big enough to share and for it to go round.” He then wrapped his performance with the timely 1971 song “Peace Train.”
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Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Yandel then hit the stage with with backup dancers and a medley of hip-shakers including 2015’s “Encantadora” and the 2005 Wisin y Yandel jams “Rakata” and “Mirala Bien.” Latina songstress Becky G then joined Yandel for the uniting anthem “Somos Unos (We Are One).”
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— Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) September 24, 2016
The iconic rock band performed the most electrifying set at Global Citizen Fest with live performances of their 30-year-old classic “Master of Puppets.” With white crosses in a graveyard, haunting images of soldier silhouettes that turned into menacing skeletons with weapons as their backdrop imagery, Metallica shook the park with riveting versions of 1984’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” 1989’s “One,” and 1991’s “Enter Sandman.” Frontman James Hetfield then offered, “Metallica is grateful to be a part of the solution not the problem. This song goes out to those people who are like-minded and whose good intentions hopefully meet their intended destinies,” before launching into “Nothing Else Matters.”
Even Priyanka Chopra was mindblown after the performance, joking afterwards, “Marry me!”
The singer slowed down the tempo and returned to light up the stage with a candlelit set that included an accompanying pianist and romantic renditions of “Burn” and the Fifty Shades of Grey standout “Love Me Like You Do.” Following a segment spotlighting the mission madewithcode.com that urges girls to use their love of science and technology to change the world, Goulding also performed the uplifting number “Anything Could Happen.”
A George Clinton quotable flashed across the screen before Lamar’s set that read, “Look both ways before you cross my mind.” Compton’s resident good kid became an instant Global Citizen Fest MVP with a catalog-spanning performance that catered to his “day ones” and united the crowd.
Beginning with “untitled 07” off his Billboard 200 chart-topper Untitled Unmastered, Lamar helped fans levitate off the Central Park grounds as he delivered high notes off his other No. 1 albums, 2015’s gripping set To Pimp a Butterfly and his 2012 major label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, like “Backseat Freestyle,” “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “untitled 02,” “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Money Trees” and “i.” He also gave his Top Dawg Entertainment cohorts love by performing his verses off ScHoolboy Q hits “Collard Greens” and “tHat Part.”
To note, Lamar shied away from cursing, omitting N-words and B-words where applicable and used the Jumbotron for striking images, including a clip of former president George W. Bush tripping before his performance of “m.A.A.d. City” and a montage of Black icons like Muhammad Ali, Don King, James Brown and black children during his performance of “King Kunta.”
However, after performing the grand finale “Alright,” Lamar’s exit music was the poignant line from “Wesley’s Theory” that echoed “Every n—a is a star.”
Chris Martin and Eddie Vedder
Festival curator Chris Martin joined Pearl Jam‘s Vedder for a special duet that marked one of the night’s standout performances. “We’re Rihanna’s warm-up act,” Martin joked before adding, “This is Eddie and he’s a wannabe singer.”
The pair — with Martin on piano and Vedder on guitar — then launched into an uplifting cover of Crowded House’s 1987 gem “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” They were also in perfect harmony for their rendition of Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy ballad “Nothingman.” Martin then switched his instrument to the guitar as he and Vedder brought new energy to Patti Smith‘s 1988 anthem “People Have the Power.”
Before singing the Smith number, Vedder delivered an impassioned speech thanking the singer and what her dream stands for today, “I want to thank Patti for having the dream, for documenting the dream, for sharing the dream.” He continued, “It’s a dream that we forget or it’s hard to hang on to or it’s certainly hard to imagine that it could come true but Patti, I wanna tell you if you’re watching, the dream is alive here in Central Park on a Saturday night.”
Vedder also called out racism, homophobia and other acts of bigotry as “antiquated ideals” and asked for unity and continued activism. “Stay active, stay energized, use your voice, use your votes and together, we can use our power for good,” he said.
After a solo warm-up performance from Martin, who covered Prince‘s “Raspberry Beret” and remixed the second verse to ponder Rih’s delayed performance with a video throwback to Alicia Keys‘ 2013 Global Citizen Festival performance of “New Day,” the night’s headliner hit the stage for an abridged version of her Anti world tour.
Rocking red glasses, red hoop earrings and a black and white, pin-striped corset-romper piece, the bad gal worked the stage with her biggest hits across pop and R&B including “Stay,” “Cake,” “Pour It Up” and “Numb.” While Lamar was privy to the curse words, Rihanna was unfiltered and kept every song and curse word in tact, especially for the moolah-loving number “Bitch Better Have My Money.” She mean-mugged and strutted across the stage, delivering her hype-inducing collaboration like T.I.’s “Live Your Life,” Jay Z’s “Run This Town” and Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.”
Riri then transitioned into the dance portion of her set list (“my favorite part of the show,” she said) and boldly told the crowd, “I don’t wanna see you on your cell phones unless you taking pictures of me.” The bad gal then performed “Take Care” and “Where Have You Been,” which was intertwined with the Calvin Harris and Disciples smash “How Deep Is Your Love.” Glittery bodysuit-clad dancers whipped across the stage as contortionist experts awed and wowed with their moves alongside Rihanna.
The new Global Partnership for Education ambassador then performed more Anti material like “Needed Me and the Tame Impala-referencing “Same Ol’ Mistakes,” as well as the shimmery hit “Diamonds” before wrapping with “Love on the Brain” and “FourFiveSeconds.” The woman of the night didn’t exit the stage without acknowledging the global citizens for their hard work, saying, “I ain’t gonna get sentimental and shit but y’all killin’ it right now.”