By Brian Ives
The Global Citizen Festival’s goal is the elimination of extreme poverty by 2030. The achievement of that goal requires a lot of cooperation from diverse people from different countries and different walks of life. And that was reflected in this year’s lineup, which featured Pearl Jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, as well as mini-sets by Tori Kelly and Common. And almost all of those sets featured at least one collaboration. Here were the notable ones.
Coldplay was the opening act, so to speak, as they performed first. Of course, as one of the more popular rock/pop bands in the world at the moment, they easily could have headlined, and they might do that one day; frontman Chris Martin recently signed on to work with the festival for the next fifteen years.
And, clearly, he’s thinking about how to stay current to a younger generation; during Coldplay’s set he invited Ariana Grande on stage for a duet on her song “Just a Little Bit of My Heart,” which was written for her by Harry Styles of One Direction.
Ed Sheeran was the second main stage act, and performed the set solo, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and loop effects, that made him sound like a full band. But one other musician did join him onstage: Coldplay’s Chris Martin on electric piano on Sheeran’s hit, “Thinking Out Loud.”
Common played a short set on the second stage, adjacent to the main stage, performing his song “Kingdom,” followed by his Oscar winning “Freedom”; John Legend wasn’t there, but his parts were sung by gospel singer Tasha Cobbs. After that, he did his classic “The Light,” when he was joined by Sting, who took it into the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” then the Police’s “One World (Not Three)” and his own “Love is the Seventh Wave”; Common threw in a bit of his own song “The People” into the jam.
Beyonce’s set was the most high production, so when she invited Ed Sheeran back to the stage, it was a stark contrast to the rest of her set. They performed her song “Drunk in Love,” to funny effect (as they sang about waking up in the kitchen “wondering how this happened”). And you really need to hear Ed Sheeran singing “surfbort.”
Finally, as we previously reported, Beyonce later joined Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder for a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
There was a lot to absorb throughout the day; hosts Stephen Colbert and Hugh Jackman both entertained the crowd and informed them about issues regarding extreme poverty, and the frankly incredible lineup of speakers included Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel, as well as Bono (who, for some reason, didn’t duet with anyone) and Big Bird (neither did he).
You can learn much more about the concert and the cause at the Global Citizen website.