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We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert The Great Lawn, Saturday, August 21st, 2021, Reviewed

Jennifer Hudson Sings Aretha Franklin Singing Pavarotti Singing Puccini

Yesterday’s Homecoming Concert was not good, and I don’t mean the early cancellation was not good, I mean the entire show was lousy. Why? Forget artists, forget sound system, forget anything but one thing: you can’t have a concert when you interrupt yourself every ten minutes or so to break for commercials. Follow the money: in this supposed great moment for New York City, the repulsive pols De Blasio and Schumer took CNN’s money and ran. In the first hour alone, DJ Cassidy spent more time DJing between sets than Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Hudson and Santana performances combined. In an act that seconded as a warning, Hudson sang one song, left the stage, and DJ Cassidy spun “Respect”. Are you joking me? Jennifer just starred in a movie called “Respect” and she is right there in front of us, have her sing it

Why not?

Follow the money.

CNN would have been charging at the least 5K a 30 during the afternoon, and double that during prime, figure 15 minutes an hour reserved for commercials, a $150 to $300K an hour MINIMUM -all the commercials were General Market and top $. You wanna see a show, New York? You wanna hear Jennifer sing “Respect”? Is that why you stood in line for two hours to get in while nearly passing out due to the stifling humidity? Fuck you, listen to DJ Cassidy play the record on his turntable (I know, it sounds better) instead, we want the money.

Whenever I’ve felt even the slightest respect for politicians, they kill it off. I’ve always disliked Governor Cuomo, the man defined school bully, but he won me over during the summer of 2020. Right? Right? Nope, I was suckered again. And yesterday, with the opportunity for the true concert of a lifetime, we received two songs a set with a two minute break for commercials.

There is a takeaway from this bad concert: Clive Davis is a loathsome asshole, and an asshole will act the way an asshole will act: in a world of bad faith, defined by one of the record business’s most ruthless individuals., the faith between audience and performers was crucified in a bed of hundred dolla bills, yall.

I would have done a much different thing. I’m fucking New York City man, I’d have bought the block of time off CNN and run without commercials. I would have put the show everywhere, all over nyc.gov, all over the world, because I’m not trying to turn a coin.

And then, at the tail end of the Jon Batiste’s two songs, I checked my weather app -the very good “Dark Sky,” that heavy rain was approaching, and turned to my dates for the day, Cathy Caudwell and Chantal Franks (without whom we would still be trying to get in), and said it is going to really rain within fifteen minutes, and left them there. Ungentlemanly? I’ve been stuck in the middle of music festivals twice (Governors Ball and Panorama) and it isn’t any fun. This is what New York City told the New York audience as thunder and lightening approached (I paraphrase): “Run for your life suckers, you’re on your own”. I expected it, it has happened before.

If I had been curating the evening I’d have done five songs per artist and closed with half hour sets… I’d have had:

Jay-Z

Bruce Springsteen

Paul Simon

Madonna

Lady Gaga

Hip Hop Spectacular

Jennifer Hudson

New York Philharmonic

and special guest Beyonce to send us home.

I’m not saying New York could get em, but it would have been light years ahead of what that senile fuck Davis gave us.

So anyway, I went with my friend Cathy Caudwell, I was close to her big sister in the 1970s so I’ve known Cathy for a long time. She moved back to England a coupla years ago but was back visiting her son. I love her dearly and it was wonderful so see her and her friend, Chantal Frank, and the two made the day worthwhile. We arrived to the sounds of “Rhapsody In Blue” and if you want to celebrate New York who better than George Gershwin, it segued to Andrea Bocelli singing, exceptionally well, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “O Solo Mio” and followed by Jennifer Hudson also with the New York Philharmonic hitting Puccini’s high notes and then… a recording of “Respect”…. And… off to a commercial break. Now remember, I am actually on the Great Lawn so when I say a commercial break I mean DJ Cassidy spinning songs while we twiddle our thumbs during a show where all the good moments, and all the bad moments, have the momentum completely derailed.

Next, Clive blathered about how he is local talent from Brooklyn (I swear I heard him give just about the same speech at Radio City Music Hall, Aretha and Jennifer Hudson both performed that night here) and then another commercial, and DJ Cassidy and Gayle King filling in the dead air time, of which there was plenty and then Santana who performed “Smooth” and the remake “Move” with Rob Thomas. And then a commercial. And then Julia Michaels, whom I like to a degree, and who can certainly write a song, was joined by her boyfriend JP Saxe to perform the bathetic “If The World Was Ending” and then a commercial.

Kane Brown’s two songs were a highlight of the evening, he has a great voice, he is a blue state type of country singer and a rare (half) black country singer’s great live take of “Be Like That” -better than the recorded version. Journey arrived and I stopped believing, and then I can say without a single caveat that the 50 years of hip hop segment was perfect. Let’s dumb it down, any day you get to see Busta Rhymes perform “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” and any day you get to hear LL Cool J perform “Mama Said Knock You Out” is a good day. Kudos to A Boogie Wit da Hoodie’s “Look Back At It,” and French Montana, Fat Joe and Remy Ma killing it on “All The Way Up”. Best of all, a true legend Melle Mel performing “The Message”. After that, the show was all but over for me.

As Jon Batiste came on I got the fifteen minute warning and by the time I figured out how to get out, Earth Wind And Fire’s set was over. I got soaked to the skin on my way home and while I didn’t enjoy the show, I certainly enjoyed the hang. What upsets me is not jut the haves/have nots vibe, it is that not even for one day these money grubbing, two faced pols can give up on the money. This is NOT how you do a show, you can’t fuck over the audience by making a live performance a virtual video. They had Anheuser Busch (selling water called Liquid Death because it murders your thirst in beer looking cans) , they had Expedia, why did they need the money from commercials? So anyway, I was out by the time Barry Manilow (not announced in the line-up) showed.

Bruce, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello and Maluma (man I wanted to hear the duo perform “Pump It Up” live), Patti Smith -we got none of em. There was a rumor that they were gonna continue once the storm past without an audience but it was not to be.

I’ve read both the New York Post and the New York Times review and they are complete bullshit. No, America, this never was and isn’t a great New York moment. This isn’t Paul McCartney’s 9-11 tribute or the 12-12-12 show at MSG (my review here), it was nowhere near as well done, it was just a mess. I’d like to say I appreciate the good intentions but it was just New York Pols being New York Pols. We are in it for the music and it simply wasn’t there. I hope they take CNN’s money and choke on it.

Grade: C- (without LL Cool J , D)

Chantal Frank, me, Cathy Caudwell before the flood

1 Comment

  1. Cathy on August 22, 2021 at 10:52 am

    Brutal, but correct. The company and atmosphere terrific but the show was a no. Gail King yakking on sounding just like Oprah. Commercial up the wazoo and periods of silence where we were left to entertain ourselves.

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