Love Rocks NYC Features Heart, Robert Plant, Lukas Nelson & More: Videos, Recap & Setlist
The third annual Love Rocks NYC benefit concert featured a ridiculous array of talent sharing the stage at The Beacon Theatre in New York City on Thursday night. Love Rocks NYC raised over $100K for God’s Love We Deliver’s mission of providing life-sustaining meals and nutrition counseling for people living with severe illnesses in the New York City metropolitan area. Robert Plant, Mavis Staples, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal and Billy Gibbons were just a few of the legends who led the house band at various points of the evening. In addition, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart shared the stage for the first time in nearly three years.
At the heart of the event was the house band put together by bassist Will Lee of The Late Show With David Letterman fame that included an insane lineup of some of the best musicians in the world. Lee was joined by guitarists Eric Krasno and Larry Campbell, drummers Steve Gadd and Shawn Pelton as well as keyboardists and Jeff Young. Will also assembled the God’s Love Horns featuring Evan Barker, Ron Blake, Joe Fiedler, Aaron Heick, Jim Hynes and Andy Snitzer. The bassist rounded out the crew with the We Deliver Singers of Chrissi Poland, Nicki Richards, Elaine Caswell, Dennis Collins, Curtis King and Neal Coomer. Each musician’s resume is filled with the biggest names in rock. Love Rocks NYC’s house band didn’t miss a note as they were on stage for the entire four-and-a-half concert. They clearly did their homework, which made for an evening those in attendance won’t ever forget.
The concert started shortly after 8 p.m. with former The Late Show With David Letterman announcer Alan Kalter serving as “the voice of god” and making jokes from the side of the stage. Grace Potter was the evening’s first performer. She led the house band through a psychedelic-tinged “White Rabbit” and showed off her energetic stage presence on “Proud Mary.” The initial blues segment of the show saw Mike Flanigin on keys, Jimmie Vaughan and Doyle Bramhall II on guitar and Danny Clinch on harmonica for a raucous take on John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers’ “All Your Love.” Next, sisters Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell, a.k.a. Larkin Poe crushed “Ophelia” by The Band.
Throughout the night hosts Martin Short and Bill Murray (Whoopi Goldberg was supposed to co-host but was too ill to make it) would come out in between the extremely quick turnovers, tell jokes and urge concert-goers to donate to God’s Love We Deliver. Lukas Nelson was the first performer of the show to play his own material. Nelson led the gorgeous “Forget About Georgia” and shouted out Lady Gaga ahead of “Find Yourself” from A Star Is Born. Bill Murray emerged after Nelson’s portion and took great joy in introducing Buddy Guy. One of the only changes to the house band took place during Buddy’s sizzling versions of “You’re Damn Right I Got The Blues” and “Cognac,” as Guy’s drummer Tom Hambridge replaced Pelton.
A New Orleans feel took over the venue with Ivan Neville and Cyril Neville performing a “Street Parade” that showcased the horn section. Two up-and-coming artists had their turns leading the house band next. First, Alice Smith blew away the crowd with her a capella rendition of “Touch The Hem Of His Garment,” a traditional gospel song famously recorded by Sam Cooke. Smith then showed off her powerful pipes on her own “Fool For You.” Then, it was Marcus King‘s opportunity to leave jaws on the floor with both his vocals and guitar work on “Cry Baby,” a tune popularized by Janis Joplin.
The concert continued with a segment featuring bluesman Keb’ Mo’ and New York Yankees great/guitarist Bernie Williams. Mo and Williams displayed their talents on “We’re A Winner” by The Impressions and then backed Taj Mahal on “Leaving Trunk” and “All Around The World.” While Taj needed to sit, he hasn’t lost a step when it comes to his voice and instrumental skills. The crowd sat throughout the first few hours of the concert … until Hozier took the stage. The Irish vocalist had the audience on its feet for a rousing rendition of Jackie Wilson’s “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” as well as his own “Take Me To Church.” Hozier was beyond excited to welcome Mavis Staples to join him for their 2018 collaboration “Nina Cried Power.” Staples was a surprise guest and stuck around for the spiritual “Wade In The Water.”
One of Martin Short and Bill Murray’s last times on stage saw the pair bring out surprise guest Chevy Chase. The trio paired up to sing “They Gave Us The Blues.” Murray then introduced Sheryl Crow who was joined by Doyle Bramhall II in leading the band through “If It Makes You Happy,” “Everyday Is A Winding Road” and “All I Wanna Do.” A highlight at a night filled with them came when Lukas Nelson emerged to perform The Allman Brothers Band classic “Midnight Rider” with Sheryl Crow, Doyle Bramhall II and Eric Krasno. It was made all the more special by The Allman Brothers Band’s rich history of shows at the venue.
Billy Gibbons was the next guest and he was aided by Bernie Williams in fronting the house band on the ZZ Top hit “Legs” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” A moment many in the crowd were waiting for followed, when Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson shared the stage for the first time since October 22, 2016. Nancy led “These Dreams” with Ann providing sweet harmonies. Nancy then showed off her impressive acoustic guitar skills during the intro for the Ann-sung “Crazy On You” to the delight of the audience. The pair seemed genuinely happy to be reunited. The final main performer of the evening, as the clock approached midnight, was Robert Plant.
Plant first performed Elvis Presley’s “Don’t” joined just by the God’s Love Singers and Larry Campbell. The Led Zeppelin frontman then brought out Jimmie Vaughan for The King’s “A Mess Of Blues.” Robert went on to welcome Sheryl Crow to share the stage for “Rich Woman,” a song by Dorothy LaBostrie and McKinley “Li’l” Millet that Plant recorded with Alison Krauss for 2007’s Raising Sand. Crow stuck around for a rootsy rendition of the Zeppelin classic “Black Dog.”
The benefit concert ended with two grand finales. First, many of the evening’s performers loaded the stage for Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle & Roll.” Then, all of the night’s musicians emerged for a rowdy “Feelin’ Alright.” Most shows featuring dozens of musicians involve lots of down time and often don’t live up to the billing. For the third year in a row, the team that put on Love Rocks NYC picked just the right musicians and busted their tails to provide an action-packed night. But the best part is that 10,000 meals will go to needy New Yorkers thanks to the $100K raised for God’s Love We Deliver.
Full Show Video (Captured by Scott Gibson)
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Set: White Rabbit (w/ Grace Potter), Proud Mary (w/ Grace Potter), All Your Love (w/ Mike Flanigin, Danny Clinch, Jimmie Vaughan and Doyle Bramhall II), Ophelia (w/ Larkin Poe), Forget About Georgia (w/ Lukas Nelson), Find Yourself (w/ Lukas Nelson), You’re Damn Right I Got The Blues (w/ Buddy Guy & Tom Hambridge), Cognac (w/ Buddy Guy & Tom Hambridge), Street Parade (w/ Ivan & Cyril Neville), Touch The Hem Of His Garment (w/ Alice Smith), Fool For You (w/ Alice Smith), Cry Baby (w/ Marcus King), We’re A Winner (w/ Keb Mo and Bernie Williams), Leaving Trunk (w/ Keb Mo, Bernie Williams & Taj Mahal), All Around This World (w/ Keb Mo, Bernie Williams & Taj Mahal), Higher & Higher (w/ Hozier), Take Me To Church (w/ Hozier), Nina Cried Power (w/ Hozier & Mavis Staples), Wade In The Water (w/ Mavis Staples), They Gave Us The Blues (w/ Martin Short, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase), If It Makes You Happy (w/ Sheryl Crow & Doyle Bramhall II), Every Day Is A Winding Road (w/ Sheryl Crow & Doyle Bramhall II), All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun (w/ Sheryl Crow & Doyle Bramhall II), Midnight Rider (w/ Sheryl Crow & Doyle Bramhall II & Lukas Nelson), Legs (w/ Billy Gibbons & Bernie Williams), Foxy Lady (w/ Billy Gibbons and Bernie Williams), These Dreams (W/ Ann Wilson & Nancy Wilson), Crazy On You (w/ Ann Wilson & Nancy Wilson), Don’t (Robert Plant w/ God’s Love Singers & Larry Campbell), A Mess Of Blues (w/ Robert Plant & Jimmie Vaughan), Rich Woman (w/ Sheryl Crow & Robert Plant), Black Dog (w/ Sheryl Crow & Robert Plant), Thank You (w/ Robert Plant), Shake Rattle & Roll (w/ most of cast), Feelin Alright (w/ entire cast)