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Global Citizen At The Great Lawn, Central Park, Saturday, September 26th, 2016, Reviewed


Does the world need to be lectured about extreme poverty? Refugees? Indoor plumbing? In what sense? Why? Perhaps the Global Citizen charity brand does do a lot of good, they are so blustery it is hard to access, but for absolutely certain, they are a set of egotistical one percenters talking down to the rest of us. The stench of bullshit, pretty strong the last two times I went, was overwhelming: these guys just wouldn’t  stop lecturing the 60,000 captives on the Great Lawn. I don’t know what the nadir here was… no wait, there were two moments: Democratic apparatchik Nancy Pelosi, a world of insincerity parcelled up in one bundle of fakeness, and Eddie Vedder, who exudes sincerity when reading the LIRR train schedule let alone bothering us between completely shitty songs, with one more lecture. Waiting for Rihanna, our hearts kept sinking as we went off on another half hour of power politics.

There might be a way for the Global Citizen benefit concert to sell its concerns, but this ain’t that. I was at the Great Lawn benefit Saturday with my fourteen year old Great Niece Juliet, and I can not think of a worse civic lesson in the world. Every time some spokesperson started in, we rolled our eyes and took to our cell phones. How can you politically motivate a teenager by boring em to death? The between set palaver was soooo long, half an hour, forty five minutes of speeches, before a half hour set. The entire event felt like one long sign of discomfort. There is a way to tell people the thing you believe is the right to do, but nobody at Global Citizen knows or understands it: there is a sharp, hectoring, being disciplined call to arms, that is a huge turn off. Perhaps, given the environment, there is no way to integrate civics and calls to arm, over and above both Rihanna and Metallica’s simple “do the right thing”. The more you drip sincerity like salt to the wound, the more people turn away. I have real interest in the care of the refugees, being one myself, but I tuned these guys right out. Every time Global Citizen started in, the entire event came to stand still while we were told off again and again. By the way, the entire event is based upon doing something to help the world and win a ticket: so haven’t we already paid for our attendance without getting lectured?

I paid for my VIP tickets anyway,  and went through more and ruder security than returning to the States from London. The ridiculous entrance, with bodychecks, another body checks, touch ups, and metal detectors (one woman grabbed Juliet’s arm… she is lucky I didn’t see it)  lead to the VIP field where, at around 430 in the afternoon, we gave up much hope of seeing anything. We missed Major Lazer, Demi Lovato and User, and couldn’t concentrate on The Kenyan Boys Choir because we were still under the delusion we might actually see something. It was so bad we couldn’t even see the close circuit screens, and ended up in retreat. we sat on the grass and texted  in time for Cat Stevens, who tends to take an hour to warm up nowadays and didn’t come within a mile of a high note during his fifteen minute set. Eddie joined him for “Father and Son”. Yandel had Juliet shazaming to little effect, I love him as well. Metallica were awesome, only half an hour but the band was everything you could want them to be. Great to hear early songs like “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Enter The Sandman”. here is a lesson in how to specechify: “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,” Ellie Goulding was terrific, Kendrick performed the same set as Governors Ball and Rihanna was singing better and performing stronger than she ever has before. What’s more, we got “Pour It Up”m  though we left during “Work”. Rihanna was terrific.

I loved hanging out with my niece but if she hadn’t been there, despite the excellence of Metallica and Rihanna,I wouldn’t have wanted to be there. It was too busy, too loud, it made me feel too irrelevant.  I paid a lot of money but it was a waste of money: unless Juliet wants to join me, I won’t be back.

Grade: C

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