By Jem Aswad
To celebrate New York’s apparent reopening, Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning a large-scale performance by multiple acts in Central Park and is working with veteran producer and executive Clive Davis to help organize the talent, according to a report Monday in the New York Times.
No acts have been confirmed for the show, which is tentatively set for Aug. 21, although Davis told the paper said he is aiming for eight “iconic” stars to perform a three-hour show for 60,000 attendees and a worldwide television audience.
Mayor de Blasio said the concert would be part of a “Homecoming Week” to demonstrate that New York City is coming back from the pandemic. “This concert is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “It’s going to be an amazing lineup. The whole week is going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before in New York City.”
Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company, is involved with the production, and the majority of tickets will be free, although there will be some V.I.P. seating, Davis told the paper.
Central Park’s Great Lawn has been the site of many iconic concerts over the decades, from the Global Citizen shows in recent years (which have featured Beyonce, Metallica, Neil Young and Coldplay; pictured above in 2019) to Simon and Garfunkel, Elton John, Carole King and Diana Ross, who performed an iconic show during a rainstorm.
“I can’t think of a better place than the Great Lawn of Central Park to be the place where you say that New York is reopening,” Davis, a New York City native, said, adding that the mayor reached out to him about three weeks ago, around the time of Davis’s most recent, star-studded Grammy gala, which was divided into two parts this year. He said his team — including his attorney son Doug, who plays a key role in organizing the galas — are at work booking artists and declined to provide any names of who has been approached.
Given the starpower of Davis’ galas and events — which have featured everyone from Aretha Franklin and Lionel Richie to Foo Fighters and Stevie Wonder — artists on the level of the above listed ones can be expected, with the involvement of frequent Davis favorites like John Legend, Alicia Keys (possibly with Jay-Z for a rousing duet on “New York State of Mind”?), Common and Jennifer Hudson seeming possible.
As the article notes, despite the rapidly expanding reopening across the U.S., prospect of a large-scale public event may still pose complications for health and crowd control. The state has promoted its vaccine passport Excelsior Pass as a way for restaurants, theater operators and others to confirm patrons’ vaccination status, but the system is still in its early phases. According to the state, about 1.1 million passes had been downloaded as of last week, around 1/9 of New York’s vaccinated population. The mayor’s office said there would be vaccinated and unvaccinated sections at the concert, and that about 70 percent of tickets would go to people who are vaccinated.