NYC’s historic Beacon Theatre was once again rockin’ on June 3 when the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation presented the fifth annual LOVE ROCKS NYC benefit concert for God’s Love We Deliver as a livestream event courtesy of streaming platform Fans.Live. Executive produced by iconic international fashion designer John Varvatos and prominent benefit concert producers Greg Williamson and Nicole Rechter, the concert was hosted by Jeff Garlin, Michael Imperioli and Bernie Williams, with surprise host Bill Murray and special guest Tina Fey, and celebrated the work God’s Love, which will cook and home-deliver more than 2.5 million medically tailored meals this year to New Yorkers who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. The special livestream event also paid tribute to the NYC frontline heroes who have played a critical role in supporting the city during the pandemic.
Since launching in 2017, the annual LOVE ROCKS NYC concerts have brought together an astonishing lineup of musical talent and have helped raise more than $13 million dollars to date, including more than $3 million raised last night, and have helped to fund more than 1.3 million meals to New Yorkers in need. The benefit concert highlights the charity’s continued work providing life-sustaining meals and nutrition counseling for people in the New York metropolitan area living with severe illness.
With Music Director and Band Leader Will Lee at the helm, the benefit concert livestream treated fans to spectacular performances by Sara Bareilles, Jon Bon Jovi, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr., Billy F Gibbons, Warren Haynes, Ayron Jones, Emily King, Ledisi, Pedrito Martinez, Tash Neal, Fantastic Negrito, Ivan Neville, Grace Potter, Robert Randolph, Nathaniel Rateliff, Jimmy Vivino and Yola.
The memorable four hour plus evening of live music featured an incredible array of stirring performances. Standout moments included Bill Murray, introducing the “young man from across the river” Jon Bon Jovi, who gave a moving performance of his song “American Reckoning” and then brought the crowd to their feet to sing along to his iconic hit “You Give Love Bad Name.” Special guest Tina Fey introduced Sara Bareilles, who dedicated a moving performance of her hit song “Brave” to NYC frontline workers who were attending as special guests. Yola’s outstanding and soulful performance of her hit song “Hold On” brought the house down, followed by her first-ever live performance of her new single “Stand for Myself,” the title track of her forthcoming album. Yola and Sara Bareilles joined forces later in the night for a powerful performance of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
Sensational guitar riffs-“guitarmageddon” as coined by host Jeff Garlin– took center stage throughout the evening, with riveting performances by Warren Haynes, Billy Gibbons, Bernie Williams, Robert Randolph, Ayron Jones, and Joe Bonamassa.
Other great musical moments included dynamic joint performances from percussionist Pedrito Martinez and rock tour de force Grace Potter for “An American Girl;”’ Fantastic Negrito’s commanding version of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Gary Clark Jr.’s superb performance of “Feed the babies;” “Nathaniel Rateliff’s brilliant rendition of the Van Morrison classic “Caravan,” and Ledisi’s soul-drenched performance of “Them Changes.” The group finale brought it home with a rousing performance “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
One of the most inspiring moments of the night came when God’s Love We Deliver President & CEO Karen Pearl took the stage to honor frontline workers, recognize and give thanks to God’s Love We Deliver staff, volunteers and supporters who were all integral during the pandemic, and to pay tribute to Ganga Stone, the organization’s co-founder who passed away on June 2.
Rounding out the night of music was the stellar house band which included Steve Gadd (James Taylor, Eric Clapton), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live), Eric Krasno (Soulive, Phil Lesh & Friends), Larry Campbell (Levon Helm, Bob Dylan), Jeff Young (Jackson Browne, Sting, Donald Fagen) and Ricky Peterson (Fleetwood Mac, David Sanborn, Prince, George Benson). Ken Dashow of Q104.3 served as the evening’s “voice of god.”