The 10th anniversary of New York’s Global Citizen provided, much like the city that hosted it, a melting pot of artists from as far away as Spain (Rosalia) and Italy (Maneskin) and as local as New Jersey natives, Charlie Puth and the Jonas Brothers, and Long Island’s own Mariah Carey.
The crowds were out in force in Central Park, staying late to catch headliner Metallica. It helped that the weather cooperated and made for smooth entry and exit for the tens of thousands in attendance.
Backstage, a who’s who of the music industry gathered, including Guy Oseary, Universal Music Group’s Michele Anthony, Arista Records chairman David Massey, Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro, agent Marsha Vlasic, Warner Records’ Eric Wong and Karen Kwak and L.A. Reid, currently working with Carey as executive producer of her next album.
A livestream of the event can be found on YouTube and an hour-long broadcast of the concert airs on ABC on Sunday night. Here are 10 highlights from the festival grounds.
Charlie Puth Knocks “New York State of Mind” Out of the Park
Billy Joel would be proud of Jersey kid Charlie Puth, who drafted a string ensemble to lend some extra class on the classic “New York State of Mind.” The love letter to the city was originally released in 1976 when Joel was in his mid-20s, and Puth, just a few years older, did an exemplary job hitting the high notes. Even as his set opened, with a solo “See You Again,” Puth proved to be in top vocal form. Backstage, the singer mingled with Maneskin and asked for a viewing area from which to watch Mariah Carey.
Troupe Mariah Makes Grand Entrance
In an entrance fit for a queen, Mariah Carey arrived for her Global Citizen set a little late but better for the wear as she allegro’d her way to the stage with an army of helpers and handlers. Her performance, a greatest hits spanning nearly three decades, also included several remarks from the singer. Carey mentioned the billions that have been raised for the cause, declaring, “Yay, us!” After belting “We Belong Together” and ahead of her inspirational “Hero,” Carey recalled New York’s darkest moment, 9/11, after which the song became an “unofficial anthem.” (“I have a hard time acknowledging my own stuff but whatever,” Carey cracked.) “It comforted us in our collective loss and recovery.” Revisiting the song recently, Carey said she now views it as a tribute to women, and credited those in the audience too young to remember 9/11 for being a “generation [that] is making the strides towards equality and equity for all.”
Metallica Meets Mickey
An unexpected collaboration came at the very end of the night. As metal giants Metallica wrapped up a sweltering set, band members James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo welcomed singer Mickey Guyton for a moving rendition of 1992’s “Nothing Else Matters.” The Texas native, who blends country and R&B for her unique sound, brought the power to the ballad, her vocals echoing through the trees and vast grounds of the park.
Nancy Pelosi: Rock Star
Perhaps the biggest rock star sighting in the backstage VIP tent? Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, whose security detail could rival Mariah’s. Wearing an all-white power suit, she elicited nodding seals of approvals from global citizens gathered and feasting on vegan food.
Maneskin’s Time Zone-Free Life
Wearing head-to-toe Gucci, the members of Maneskin — singer Damiano David, bassist Victoria De Angelis, guitarist Thomas Raggi and drummer Ethan Torchio — were a colorful sight on the festival grounds. The Italian group has effectively not stopped moving since winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021. How do they handle traversing coasts and continents weekly if not nightly? “When you live in no time zone, there’s nothing to adjust to,” said David. His bandmates wholeheartedly agreed.
Mickey Guyton Covers Beyoncé
Although Texan singer Mickey Guyton made a big point of being a “Black girl singing country music,” her four-song set was definitely leaning in a pop direction, with only the closing “Something About You” having a serious Nashville bent. She even covered Beyoncé’s 2009 hit “If I Were a Boy,” introducing the song by saying, “With what is going on in this world, I felt moved to sing a cover for you guys” — a vague enough statement, although it’s possible the performance was a low-key commentary on the recent attacks on women’s rights. But she made no question about her meaning at other points in the set: “That is right: Black girls sing country music!” she declared. “Remember that — don’t ever let them put you in a box.”
Angelique Kidjo Takes On Talking Heads
In 2018, world-renowned singer Angelique Kidjo, who hails from the West African country of Benin, covered the entire Talking Heads 1980 album “Remain in Light,” reinterpreting its songs in her distinctive style and, in a way, bringing the African-influenced album’s songs full circle. And although her cover of the album’s “Once in a Lifetime” was a highlight of her joyous set — she introduced it as “New York is the center of the world, and [the city] where one of the iconic bands of rock and roll comes from: Talking Heads and David Byrne” and went out into the crowd during the song’s latter half — she may not have realized that the Talking Heads premiered the album for their hometown, some two months before it was released, 42 years earlier at a concert at Wollman Rink, just a short distance across Central Park.
Rosalia Stunned by “Happy Birthday” Chant
Spanish sensation Rosalia, who played two stunning concerts at New York’s Radio City Music Hall earlier in the week, took the stage in an unusual dress that is very difficult to describe — it had both a bustle and an odd metal underpinning at the front — and performed stripped-down, solo versions of four songs from her innovative latest album “Motomami,” accompanied by backing tracks or herself on piano. However, the most touching moment came when she casually mentioned that it would be her birthday in a few hours and was clearly overwhelmed when the crowd burst into a spontaneous rendition of “Happy Birthday” to her.
Jadakiss and Styles P Roll Up for “We Belong Together” Remix
It wouldn’t be a Mariah Carey performance without both a diva moment — questioning the stage’s lighting, she asked the crowd, “If I was going to be playing at night why did they have me rehearse during the day?” — and humor. During the performance of her 2005 hit “We Belong Together,” she brought out the remix’s collaborators Jadakiss and Styles P, yelling “New York is in the house!” — but the humorous moment came when she launched into the softer, original version of the song and tried to get one audience member in particular to sing along: “Come on, Metallica fan down there — I see you!”