Global Poverty Project @ Central Park

MANHATTAN, NY—“The Global Poverty Project is an educational and campaigning organization that activates citizens to be a part of the global movement to end extreme poverty.”

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Foo Fighters, Black Keys, John Legend and Band Of Horses combined forces on a gorgeous September night in Central Park as part of the Global Poverty Project. A free ticketed event where fans earned points online for amassing good deeds was a unique one. Pulling off such an event—underwritten by the Bill Gates Foundation, among others—on the sacred grounds of Central Park’s great lawn where Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, Elton John, Jefferson Starship and Dave Matthews Band played was a difficult task that the city, promoters, performers and cops succeeded at brilliantly.

Katie Couric, Jeffrey Sachs, and Chelsea Clinton also spoke and presented awards on behalf of the foundation, including one to Peter Salk, the son of polio vaccine discoverer Jonas Salk, which he accepted on behalf of his father graciously. Band Of Horses got a few of their hit songs in before the big shots came on board. John Legend played a soulful “Imagine” that floated onto Strawberry Fields. The other bands, however, were all indebted ultimately to the barnstorming, lo-fi guitar rock of headliner Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl howled from the stage after “Times Like These” that, “Tonight we’re playing not for you, but with you.” The band then took on “My Hero” with stellar riffs. Grohl added, “I wish we could play all night, but I’d rather see Neil Young play,” before the band ripped into the grungy power pop of “Learn To Fly.” Drummer Taylor Hawkins and Grohl riffed and drum rolled off each other like two brothers in arms as they bashed their stormy juggernaut of user-friendly hooks and poppy chorus’ at the crowd.

The Black Keys’ set was a thunderous knock out of guitar rock and punchy drums, with the addition of a few side players that added depth and tone to their straight ahead, four-on-the-floor counterattack. They played an acoustified “Little Black Submarines” at first, then electrified and cranked it out next. Guitarist Dan Auerbach’s leads that mirrored his melodic vocals went from bluesy rumbles to loud roars that drummer Patrick Carney pounded through.

The night, however, belonged to Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Opening with “Love And Only Love,” they took the crowd on a psychedelic tiptoe thru the tulips. Fuzzed up, ragged and blasting notes of metallic thunder at the crowd, Neil & Crazy Horse looked like a gang of old hippies cut loose from their old ladies and living it up.

On “Walk Like A Giant,” an extended bang-up from the forthcoming new release, Psychedelic Pill, the band morphed into one as they ended it banging out a dozen or so footsteps of a walking beast on syncopated stomps of bass, drums and distorted guitars that could’ve summoned up more than a few dinosaur ghosts to action at the nearby Museum Of Natural History. “Fuckin’ Up” and “Rockin’ In The Free World” ended the night with Grohl and Auerbach on hand saluting the godfather of grunge and setting the crowd into action to end world poverty.