Love Rocks NYC Features Dave Matthews, Chris & Rich Robinson, Susan Tedeschi And More: Setlist, Review, Photos & Videos
On a day when New York City officials, like officials in many states and cities across the country, announced the cancelation of all mass gatherings due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, the fourth annual Love Rocks NYC all-star benefit concert for God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD) at The Beacon Theatre went on with the show. However, attendance was limited to core artist personnel, event staff, essential team staff, credentialed media and immediate family. On the plus side, music fans from around the world were able to tune in via a free live stream. The show delivered the once-in-a-lifetime performances that are the hallmark of Love Rocks NYC with guests including Dave Matthews, Chris Robinson, Rich Robinson, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Cyndi Lauper, among many others.
God’s Love We Deliver was established 35 years ago to bring pre-made meals to victims of the AIDS epidemic in New York City who couldn’t leave home and has since expanded its mission to include other clients unable to leave their homes. The organization saves lives by providing food to people who can’t go shopping or cook due to their health issues. Thirty-five years later, the world is experiencing a different pandemic that is leading to some of the same issues. As such, GLWD spent an unbudgeted $250K to provide shelf-stable foods to its clients in the event the organization’s staff can’t make their usual deliveries due to quarantines. This is just one of the bevy of reasons it was crucial the fundraiser continued on, though to say witnessing a concert with perhaps 200 other attendees in the building was eerie is a huge understatement.
Usually, when lineups featuring over a dozen artists are announced, the event screams “shitshow” due to the logistics involved. Thankfully, the Love Rocks NYC Team has the production down to a science and there was hardly a minute when there wasn’t either music or someone giving a short speech. At the core of the event is the wildly talented house band put together by musical director Will Lee. Will and Love Rocks NYC organizers recruited some of the best musicians in the world for the ensemble, namely guitarist Eric Krasno, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, the insane one-two drumming punch of Steve Gadd and Shawn Pelton as well as keyboardists Ricky Peterson and Jeff Young. Peterson, who serves as the musical director for Fleetwood Mac, was the newest addition to the event’s longtime house band as he took the role usually held by Paul Shaffer, who was a host and guest this year. This band was as good in action as it looks on paper. Nary a note was missed throughout FOUR HOURS of performances and they often played new arrangements of familiar songs.
Yet, the house band was not on stage when the concert began. Instead, Cyndi Lauper performed “True Colors” on an Appalachian dulcimer while backed by a 13-piece string section. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. A video profiling GLWD was then shown before the curtain was raised and the house band took the stage. The house band was joined by the six-piece God’s Love Horns and the six-piece We Deliver Singers at various points of the evening.
Up first was Emily King who wowed with the pipes shown on her own “Look At Me Now.” Then, Macy Gray emerged to front the house band on a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Hearing Larry Campbell solo on “Creep” is something I’d imagine few in the crowd ever thought they’d see and what a sight it was. The energy in the room was picked up in a big way when Joss Stone took the stage to belt out “Piece Of My Heart.” While the audience was small, those in the house gave a huge response at nearly every moment and made sure to show their appreciation. Few sat down during “Piece Of My Heart,” which featured the house band, horns and backing singers – 19 musicians in total.
God’s Love We Deliver President & CEO Karen Pearl came out next and spoke to the crowd about the organization’s mission and noted the similarities between what GLWD dealt with in its early days and what the company is going through right now. It was then time for the blues as Jimmie Vaughan and his longtime band mate Mike Flanigan were joined by Jimmy Vivino for a rollicking number before Sue Foley emerged to add to the fitting “Let The Good Times Roll.”
More How Love Rocks NYC Is Put Together on JamBase
Jackson Browne took the stage next to introduce his good friend Marc Cohn. The singer-songwriter sat behind the piano to lead the house band on a sizzling rendition of his own “Walk Through The World.” Love Rocks NYC continued with a pair of performances from soul singer/guitarist Leon Bridges. Leon sang “Bad Bad News” first, which featured the house band and included an impressive solo filled with emotion from Kraz. Bridges then went at it with just one vocalist for a gorgeous version of his original “River.”
The War And Treaty made their Love Rocks NYC debut on Thursday and stole the show. The husband-and-wife duo Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter brought the house down with the soul-laden “Hey, Pretty Moon.” Blount-Trotter took a few minutes before the performance to dedicate the song to veterans including her husband, who served two stints in Iraq and was told by his troupe in the U.S. Army he was better utilized as a singer performing songs in memoriam for those in the unit who died in service.
When Marcus King played at the first Love Rocks NYC in 2017, he was little-known outside of the jam community. That night, he gave a stunning performance of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” which left a huge impression on many in the audience. King is now a staple of the event and on Thursday he had a chance to show off his own songwriting by leading the house band — including his good friend Eric Krasno — on a beautiful version of “Beautiful Stranger” from his recently released debut solo album El Dorado.
Jackson Browne was up next and this time he performed, along with percussionist Pedrito Martinez and the house band, on a riveting “Doctor, My Eyes” that had nearly everyone up on their feet and singing along. Browne was then joined by Martinez, Stone and King for another singalong: “Love The One Your With.” Jackson, Joss and Marcus shared lead vocal duties and the huge differences between their voices made the Stephen Stills cover a special one.
Many impressive vocalists took the stage last night however none matched the power and emotion of Lisa Fischer. The remarkable singer led the house band in an inventive arrangement of The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” that really showed off the talents of the house band. Fischer utilized two different microphones as she put every inch of herself into the performance of the Stones’ classic. “Wild Horses” was a highlight of the night as was an intense and spirited version of Derek & The Dominos’ “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” featuring Warren Haynes, Jimmy Vivino and Derek Trucks that came after Haynes’ gorgeous take on “One” by U2. Haynes joked that he hadn’t seen Derek, an unannounced guest, in a while just two nights after the pair shared the stage at Madison Square Garden as part of a tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band. “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?” was the most jammed-out affair of the evening with Haynes, Vivino and Trucks all crushing their solos. Meanwhile, Warren and Jimmy did an excellent job of providing the lead and harmony vocals that are so crucial to the tune.
Dave Matthews was the evening’s next performer and came out solo to start his portion of the show. Matthews noted Love Rocks NYC Co-Executive Producer John Varvatos skipped the normal channels and reached out to him directly to ask him to play. Apparently it worked as Dave was on hand for his debut at the event. Up first was an intense and driving “Don’t Drink The Water.” Then, the house band returned along with Pedrito Martinez for an “Ants Marching” unlike any other. Lee and company put a cool spin on the tune with Larry Campbell performing the song’s signature fiddle part. Gadd, Martinez and Pelton took a few opportunities for drum duels while Jeff Coffin added the soprano sax part he plays during DMB takes on “Ants Marching.” As if the one-of-a-kind “Ants Marching” wasn’t cool enough, Dave stuck around and shed his guitar to front the 21-piece ensemble on a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” Matthews showed off his dancing skills and many of those in the crowd used the ample space to get their groove on as the band powered through the classic tune.
Surprise guests Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi kept the concert moving by joining Martinez, Shaffer and the house band for jaw-dropping renditions of Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You)” and The Boxtops’ “The Letter.” Trucks shredded throughout each to the delight of the crowd. While Derek and Susan left the stage after “The Letter” they would soon be back. Reclusive late-night television host David Letterman made a rare public appearance thanks to an invitation from Shaffer. Letterman talked about the power of live music and said he made one request of Shaffer. Paul then informed the audience that Dave wanted to hear Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks perform Dan Penn’s “Dark End Of The Street.” Susan and Derek complied with the unexpected and fantastic addition of Jackson Browne. David Letterman gave each musician huge hugs after their outstanding rendition of his request.
The evening’s final guests were Chris & Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes and legendary keyboardist Ivan Neville. Chris and Rich, who recently reunited after a long feud, led the stacked ensemble of musicians through an incendiary “Jealous Again” that featured a killer piano solo from Neville. Ivan moved over to organ and Rich strapped on an acoustic for a gorgeous “She Talks To Angels.” Chris, perhaps jokingly, told the crowd they were originally supposed to perform “Rockin’ Pneumonia & Boogie Woogie Flu” but thought better of the idea in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. The Crowes, Neville and the house band then tore through Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle,” a song Chris noted had been associated with the Crowes for the past 30 years. “Hard To Handle” came to a close with a round of rousing solos that started with Larry Campbell and continued with Eric Krasno, Ivan Neville and Jeff Young before Rich Robinson took it home with help from Kraz and Campbell.
Co-Executive Producer Greg Williamson then took the stage to thank all of the performers and those who contributed to God’s Love We Deliver. Nearly all of the evening’s artists paraded on-stage for the event’s usual finale of “All You Need Is Love.” A particularly cool moment was when Cyndi Lauper ran right up to Susan Tedeschi and said something to the effect of “you blew my fucking mind.” While Thursday was just the latest in a series of rough days as the world struggles with the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, Love Rocks NYC gave live music lovers four hours off from thinking about the heartache. “All You Need Is Love” is a message everyone can heed and hopefully it’s that love that will see the world through the pandemic. Please consider donating to God’s Love We Deliver here.
Pro-Shot Videos (via The Relix Channel)
Cyndi Lauper – True Colors & GLWD Promo
Jimmie Vaughan – That’s Why You Got Me Crying
Cyndi Lauper w/ 13-piece string section: True Colors, Emily King: Look At Me Now, Macy Gray: Creep, Joss Stone: Piece Of My Heart, Karen Pearl: Speech, Jimmie Vaughan, Jimmy Vivino & Mike Flanigan: That’s Why You Got Me Crying, Sue Foley, Jimmie Vaughan, Jimmy Vivino & Mike Flanigan: Let The Good Times Roll, Marc Cohn: Walk Through The World, Leon Bridges: Bad Bad News, River, The War & Treaty: Veteran’s Dedication, Hey Pretty Moon, Marcus King: Beautiful Stranger, Paul Shaffer: Speech, Jackson Browne & Pedrito Martinez: Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne, Pedrito Martinez, Joss Stone & Marcus King: Love The One You’re With, Tamar Tunie: Speech, Lisa Fischer: Wild Horses, Warren Haynes: One, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Vivino & Derek Trucks: Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?, Dave Matthews (Solo): Don’t Drink The Water, Dave Matthews & Pedrito Martinez: Ants Marching, Sledgehammer, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Pedrito Martinez & Paul Shaffer: I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You), The Letter, David Letterman: Speech & Song Request, Jackson Browne, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks & Paul Shaffer: Dark End Of The Street, Chris Robinson, Rich Robinson & Ivan Neville: Jealous Again, She Talks To Angels, Hard To Handle, Everyone: All You Need Is Love
House Band: Will Lee, Larry Campbell, Steve Gadd, Eric Krasno, Shawn Pelton, Ricky Peterson and Jeff Young
God’s Love Horns: Evan Barker, Ron Blake, Jeff Coffin, Joe Fielder, Aaron Heick and Jim Hynes
We Deliver Singers: Elaine Caswell, Dennis Collins, Neal Coomer, Chrissi Poland, Nicki Richards and Mark Rivers
Voice Of God (MC): Alan Kalter