Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith had planned a feast for the over 60,000 attendees and countless viewers around the world of “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” in Central Park.
Then rain and lightning from Hurricane Henri hit Central Park, bringing the show to a halt in mid-Manilow.
Barry Manilow was singing “Can’t Smile Without You” when a member of the stage crew rushed over and gave his bandmates the “cut it” sign.
Notice the machinist at the “0:07” mark:
The music stopped and an announcement was made urging everyone to flee the Great Lawn – in an orderly fashion, of course – and take shelter from the storm.
Mass confusion followed. As people were filling out their files, Mayor Bill de Blasio suddenly announced that the show would continue.
Would the show continue with or without fans, who originally had to show proof of vaccination to enter? No one could tell for sure. They were busy issuing “on again / off again” proclamations.
Meanwhile, Patti Smith and her group were sent to a local waterhole while other performers retreated to their tents or trailers.
Participants were stuck in limbo, forced to find a place to hang themselves or to bail out when the rain fell. Lightning was reported in the city – including in Queens, where two people were reportedly struck – as well as at the battery at the southwestern tip of Manhattan. The Liberty Tower was also reportedly affected.
Several fans took to social media, wondering why de Blasio, other New York officials and promoters ignored widespread warnings that a tropical storm was hitting Gotham.
“Uh, I don’t know why New York authorities organized a ‘Covid-is-over-not-over’ homecoming concert in Central Park when Hurricane Henri was scheduled to strike was a good idea. … “, Wrote one of them.
Another called the mayor’s public attempt to keep the concert “an incredibly stupid and incredibly naive performance.”
The event was intended to mark the end of the COVID pandemic in New York City, which had been the global epicenter of the virus in April 2020.
“Who knows how many lives Hurricane Henri saved from Covid by prematurely closing the NYC Homecoming Super-spread Concert? Someone tweeted.
CNN had the exclusive rights to broadcast the show. Anderson Cooper filled much of the scheduled airtime with a live cell phone from the Killers performing acoustically in their tent and interviews with Manilow – who sang a chorus for him on the phone – as well as Costello and Smith.
The longtime punk queen said she and her band mates weren’t told what was going to happen, but just had to wait, even though some of the team had already left. rushed.
The show was rumored to resume once the rain stopped, perhaps around 10 p.m., but the Universe had none of it. Someone finally announced to a waterlogged, mostly empty field that the event was over.
Among those waiting to headline the second half of the show were Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Springsteen and Smith, who had a reunion planned.
“The rules of nature,” Smith told Cooper during the live chat. “We have abused nature to the point that it is chaotic and unpredictable”
Smith also said the plan was for her to join Springsteen on stage for “Because the Night”.
As Springsteen’s third album, “Born to Run,” launched him into widespread awareness in 1975, Smith released his debut album, “Horses,” punching his lyrics with powerful guitar chords that helped spawn the movement. downtown Manhattan musical that became known as punk.
Smith’s aimed to speak on behalf of disenfranchised people – those who, like her, were “a little weird or a little different”, who felt out of place in their small hometown or “outside of society. “, as the words of a song say. .
Intentional or not, she ended up crossing over with her third album, “Easter”, produced by in-demand hitmaker Jimmy Iovine (Springsteen, John Lennon, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, U2, Stevie Nicks, Gwen Stefani, Ladi Gaga).
What immediately caught the attention of listeners was a number that opens with a slow and sensual piano arpeggio and lyrics: “Take me now, baby, here as I am / Hold me close, try to understand; Desire is hunger, it is the fire that I breathe / Love is a banquet that we feed on.
Throughout the story, Iovine had told Springsteen that Smith deserved a shot. Bruce wasn’t going anywhere with “Because the Night” other than a big Boss Arena-rock chorus. “If she can do it, she can have it,” he reportedly said.
Smith wrote the verses, then performed “Because the Night” live at CBGB – with Springsteen – as a birthday present for her husband, late MC5 founder Fred “Sonic” Smith, on December 30, 1977.
“Because the Night” became a sort of anthem in the late 1970s, which introduced many listeners to Patricia Lee Smith, who, like Springsteen, lived in the Garden State.
In a twist on a New Jersey rite of passage, she used some of the money to buy a car for her father.
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