Amid concern over the Delta coronavirus variant, a mega-concert in Central Park to celebrate New York City’s reopening will go forward as planned next month, with performers including The Killers, Journey, LL Cool J, Jennifer Hudson, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined music industry legend Clive Davis, who is co-producing the concert, for a press conference this morning (July 27) unveiling details of what de Blasio promised will be a “historic,” “blockbuster” event. Officially titled “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert,” the event is set for Aug. 21 at 5 p.m., it will be broadcast live globally on CNN and 80% of tickets will be free. While de Blasio initially proposed having vaccinated and unvaccinated sections, he said that attendees will be required to present proof of vaccination.
“New York City is back,” de Blasio said. “You can see it, you can feel it, and it’s time to celebrate on the Great Lawn.”
The lineup, which includes many New York natives, so far spans Jon Batiste, Andrea Bocelli, Kane Brown, LL Cool J, Elvis Costello, Earth, Wind & Fire joined by Lucky Daye and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Cynthia Erivo, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Hudson, Wyclef Jean, Journey, The Killers, Gayle King, Don Lemon, Barry Manilow, The New York Philharmonic, Polo G, Carlos Santana joined by Rob Thomas, Paul Simon and Patti Smith duetting with Bruce Springsteen.
“As a born, bred and true New Yorker, I well know how resilient we are and how New York always comes back,” Davis said. “I cannot think of a more appropriate way to celebrate this than an unforgettable concert in the most special venue in the world: the Great Lawn at Central Park. My team, along with our partners at Live Nation, has been hard at work for weeks curating what I submit to you will be a once-in a lifetime event […] It will celebrate a spectacular range of musical genres, styles and eras while including some of the most iconic artists in the history of modern music.”
Davis, who was raised in Brooklyn, is co-producing alongside Live Nation. Restauranteur Danny Meyer, the recently-appointed chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corporation board of directors, is also involved, as is Universal Hip-Hop Museum executive director Rocky Bucano.
“We’re so honored to be part of this event,” added Live Nation regional president Geoff Gordon. “I too have goosebumps after hearing that, even though we’ve been involved in lining this up. Live music has the unique ability to bring us all together, which is really what we’re doing. There’s nothing like a live music experience.”
Tickets for the concert go on sale Monday, Aug. 2 at 10 a.m. EST on the new NYC Homecoming Week website, and the Great Lawn has a capacity of 60,000. The 20% of tickets not designated as free are VIP tickets available for purchase. De Blasio said that event workers will be checking for proof of vaccination as attendees enter, with more details to come. Asked by a reporter whether the vaccination requirement means the concert is for attendees aged 12 and over only, de Blasio said, “right now, that’s a fair assumption.”
The event will cap off a reopening celebration dubbed NYC Homecoming Week, during which the City of New York will host concerts in each of the five boroughs starting August 14, leading up to the Great Lawn spectacle on the 21st. The lead-up concerts will be held Aug. 16 at Orchard Beach in The Bronx; Aug. 17 at Richmond County Bank Park in Staten Island; Aug. 19 at Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn; and Aug. 20 at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens.
Today’s press conference comes as cases of the Delta variant, a newer and highly contagious strain of COVID-19, continue to spread in the U.S. Cases are rising in California, prompting Los Angeles County officials to reinstate face mask requirements earlier this month.
Meanwhile, iconic New York City arts and entertainment venues like Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre began reopening in early April, and in mid-June, when 70% of New York residents over age 18 had received at least one vaccine dose, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted the vast majority of the state’s pandemic-era restrictions. In New York, which was the early epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., 68% of the population aged 18 and over is now fully vaccinated, compared with 56.6% of the total state population.
The mayor’s office has been rolling out media campaigns to encourage vaccination among residents who are reluctant to get the shot, and de Blasio continued to urge New Yorkers to get vaccinated at the press conference, calling the vaccine “the number-one savior.”
“If you want to go to this concert,” he said, “get vaccinated.”