The second annual Global Citizen Festival took place over the weekend on The Great Lawn in New York's Central Park. The focus of this year's festival was to accelerate the possibility of having a world without extreme poverty by 2030 — within a generation.
This year's lineup drew a crowd of 60,000, the majority of whom earned their tickets by volunteering, signing petitions or furthering information about worldwide poverty. Performers included Elvis Costello, Kings of Leon, Janelle Monae, John Mayer and Stevie Wonder. In between sets, celebrities including Bono, Olivia Wilde, Gerard Butler as well as political figures talked about the need to end extreme poverty and what their organiziations are doing to help.
Starting off the headlining sets was Kings of Leon. Unfortunately, the long lines to get into the festival prevented many fans from seeing the band (including Music Times). At least the speakers were loud enough so that fans waiting in line could hear the belting of "Sex on Fire." Because we couldn't quite judge the performance from a quarter mile away, we will exclude the band from our festival highlights.
From Alicia Keys to Stevie Wonder and special guests in between, the night was full of powerful music. Here are the top five highlights that made Global Citizen Festival 2013 great.
1. ALICIA KEYS' VOICE: It's easy to forget sometimes how truly talented Alicia Keys is. After her so-so release of "Girl on Fire," Keys hasn't really been in the spotlight. But the moment she began singing the soulful, "If I Ain't Got you," it was clear that she can command the stage.
2. JOHN MAYER'S GUITAR PLAYING: When Eric Clapton calls you the next "Slow Hand," you know that you have some real guitar chops. Mayer's slick solos, especially on "Waiting on the World to Change" showed just how intricate a guitar player he is.
3. STEVIE WONDER'S HUMILITY: It's difficult to pick just one aspect of Stevie's Wonder's performance to highlight. Having a legend in your presence sends a powerful message. Beyond his awe-inspiring set, which included "Sign, Sealed, Delivered," "Higher Ground," "How Sweet It Is," "Superstition," "Isn't She Lovely," "Sir Duke" and two nods to the Beatles; it was Stevie's humility and fervor to change the world that stood out above all.
4. BONO'S INTRODUCTION: Bono's introduction to Stevie Wonder was pretty epic. He mixed song and spoken word to bring the legend on stage. When Bono thinks your cool, he lets the whole world know.
5. JANELLE MONAE'S SPECIAL APPEARANCE: Although she was not originally billed for a performance at the festival, Janelle Monae's collaborations with Stevie Wonder were some of the most moving of the evening. You could tell that she was blown away by the fact she was performing with a legend, but she held her own right next to him.