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Global Citizen Festival - Packed with Horse Power to Help End World Poverty

by Rich and Laura Lynch

There was plenty of horse power amassed as some of the key fighters against global poverty came together for the first Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City on September 29, 2012. Neil Young and Crazy Horse were joined by the Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Band of Horses, John Legend, K'NAAN and scores of other behind the scenes workers in supporting global change in an effort to end a wide array of senseless suffering around the planet.

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
The legendary Neil Young and Crazy Horse onstage at the Global Citizen Festival 2012.

The Global Citizen Festival was all about mobilization, music and raising money to support NGOs that are working around the world to halt poverty. The multi-media event rocked and raised awareness for the fight against poverty and became the most-watched webcast in history.

Global Citizen is a tool to amplify and unite a generation's call for justice. It is a place for people to learn, act and bring an end to extreme poverty. Global Citizen ( is still in its early stages but in the coming weeks it will feature new issues and information with action opportunities, so members can take steps for change.

Neil Young stated, "With at least 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty on Earth today, there has never been a better time to become a Global Citizen and do whatever you can to make a difference for your fellow man."

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
Neil Young adds the Global Citizen Festival to his long list of causes to support.

Neil Young is one of the most influential and prolific musicians of our times. Neil Young burst on the scene in 1966 with the Buffalo Springfield. After leaving that band he pursued a solo career that has explored a wide range of styles including acoustic, blues, country, folk, electronic, jazz, swing and rock. In some circles, Young is considered the godfather of grunge. Throughout his lengthy career Neil has been an advocate for many good causes including protecting family farms and now Global Citizen.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse closed the festival with a mix of classic and new materiel. "Love and Only Love" blended jamming and singing about the on-going theme of the power of love to overcome hate. The track with a long outro showcased the signature Young & Crazy Horse sound.

"Walk Like a Giant" is the new single from Psychadelic Pill that featured heavy rhythms perhaps replicating the sound of a giant. In fact, New York City's most prominent recreational destination sounded more like Jurassic Park as the band closed the song with countless sonic steps that sounded like a herd of Tyronassuar Rex stampeding across the Great Lawn. The favorites included the powerful storytelling of "Powderfinger" and "The Needle and the Damage Done".

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
The Foo Fighters pleased the over 60,000 in attendance on the Great Lawn.

"Fuckin' Up" could have been Neil's commentary on the state of the world. With the closer "Rockin' in the Free World" punctuating the point. Dave Grohl and Dan Auerback joined Neil for the anthem. Yet, despite the desperate themes of these two songs the fact that these artists donated their time to this concert showed that they believe things can still be changed for the better.

The Foo Fighters are an American alternative rock band founded by drummer Dave Grohl who was formally in the ground breaking grunge group Nirvana. Since taking flight in 1994 the Foo Fighters have soared selling millions of records while performing live to a large worldwide fan base. They have also won eleven Grammy Awards.

"Hey, beautiful night, this is incredible," greeted Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. "I wrote this song for nights like this," he said as they went into a rousing "Times Like These" that started off acoustically before the band and people clapping along added the rock element to the tune.

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
Dave Grohl announced that this was probably the last Foo Fighters concert for a while.

The Foo Fighters played a set of fan favorites. They were exciting and engaging getting the 60,000 plus people in attendance to clap, dance and sing along. The use of fog and lights added to their overall presentation. Also, from our stand point the sound throughout the concert was good.

"Wish we could play all night but I'd rather see Neil Young," enthused Dave as they continued their high flying set with a lively "Learn to Fly". They rocked through more of their hits including "These Days", "Walk", "Best of You" and finishing with an energized "Everlong".

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
The Black Keys are currently one of the hottest bands in the worldt.

Before The Black Keys emerged, singer John Legend took a seat at the piano and performed a soulful version of John Lennon's "Imagine". As sets were being switched various celebrities and NGO representatives spoke about the different fights against poverty with many success stories and pledges to do more. Videos were also used to convey issues that ranged from food, education, environment, water and women's rights.

The Black Keys was formed in 2001 by Dan Auerbach (guitar/vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). The duo was an underground act for a number of years but with steady touring and the release of tasteful records they have broken into the mainstream. They have secured three Grammy Awards and are playing to bigger crowds including the sizable gathering at The Global Citizen Festival.

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
The Black Keys played the longest set of the night by turning in 14 high-powered songs.

Core members Dan and Patrick of The Black Keys were supported by a full band as they performed an animated and ambitious set of songs. They have a unique but cool sound that is hard to categorized. Their up-beat rhythm heavy tunes have almost a touch of blues but we would not describe them as a blues band.

Dan also has a singular style of singing with the ability to reach high notes and on other songs have a sort of smokey quality to his voice. Like the Foo Fighters, The Black Keys were effective in connecting with the crowd and playing lots of fan favorites.

The Black Keys' set of plenty included the catchy opener "Howlin' for You" followed by the groove heavy "Next Girl". The last two of fourteen songs were the sentimental yet swaggering "Lonely Boy" and a riveting "I Got Mine".

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
The Band of Horses onstage in Central Park, New York City.

Also performing at the Global Citizen Festival was Band of Horses an alternative country rock band. They have released four studio albums with Infinite Arms earning a Grammy nomination in 2010. Band of Horses performed four songs. The first two were rockers and the last two were slower numbers that drew cheers of recognition from the audience.

K'NAAN is a Somali Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. He is best-known know for his single that was the theme song for the World Cup. K'NAAN opened the show stating "this is my sound". His sound was heavy on percussion. He sang and spoke songs that addressed social issues in presentations that were peppy with rhymes from around the world including his homeland of Somali. K'NAAN closed his inspirational and insightful set with fans waving their arms to "Wavin' Flag".

Among the issues the Global Citizen Festival and Global Citizen platform is seeking to impact is the global effort to end polio, cases of which have been reduced by more than 99% since 1988. By bringing together thousands of people to take action, this generation can make history and finally eradicate the disease. Please go to for more information.

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
K'NAAN was the charismatic and highly entertaining opener.

"By giving every child a chance to thrive, our generation can end extreme poverty," said Hugh Evans, CEO, The Global Poverty Project. Tremendous strides have been made to improve the lives of children, including the effort to provide every child with the vaccines they require, but there is much to be done and the need for action is urgent.

The Global Citizen Festival and Global Citizen showcased a wide range of issues and music. Global Citizen highlighted many success stories yet reminded people that there are still 1.4 billion reasons that more must be done to stop poverty. The Global Citizen Festival of 2012 was a call to action. Please visit to learn how you too can change the world for the better.

SETLIST: NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE / Love and Only Love / Powderfinger / Born In Ontario / Walk Like a Giant / The Needle and the Damage Done / Twisted Road / Fuckin' Up / Rockin' in the Free World / FOO FIGHTERS / Times Like These / All My Life / My Hero / Learn to Fly / Arlandria / These Days / Walk / Best of You / Everlong / THE BLACK KEYS / Howlin' for You / Next Girl / Run Right Back / Same Old Thing / Dead and Gone / Little Black Submarines / Money Maker / Strange Times / Nova Baby / She's Long Gone / Tighten Up / Gold on the Ceiling / Lonely Boy / I Got Mine / JOHN LEGEND / Imagine / BAND OF HORSES / Knock Knock / The Great Salt Lake / No One's Gonna Love You / The Funeral / K'NAAN / Does It Really Matter / Seed / Wavin' Flag

The Global Citizen Festival 2012 in Central Park, New York
Scenes and presenters from the Global Citizen Festival 2012 in New York City.

Related Links: For more information on the GLOBAL CITIZEN FESTIVAL and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Global Citizen Festival | Neil Young | Foo Fighters | The Black Keys | Band of Horses | John Legend | K'NAAN


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