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New York City plans a Central Park mega-concert to celebrate reopening

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – Brunch crowds are back. Rush-hour traffic is back. Tourists in horse-drawn carriages are back.

But the best proof that New York City has returned to its full glory may be a mega-concert in the green expanse of Central Park.

Seeking a grand symbol of New York’s revitalisation after a brutal pandemic year, Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning a large-scale performance by multiple acts and has called on Clive Davis, the 89-year-old producer and music-industry eminence, to pull it together.

The show, tentatively set for Aug 21, is still coming together, with no artists confirmed, though Davis – whose five-decade career highlights have included working with Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston – said he is aiming for eight “iconic” stars to perform a three-hour show for 60,000 attendees and a worldwide television audience.

De Blasio said in an interview that the concert was part of a “Homecoming Week” to show that New York City is coming back from the pandemic – a celebration for residents and those in the region who might not have visited in a while.

“This concert is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” de Blasio said. “It’s going to be an amazing lineup. The whole week is going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before in New York City.”

The show would be the latest in a storied tradition of Central Park super-productions that tend to attract worldwide coverage and to paint New York as a peaceful, cosmopolitan haven for the arts.

Many New Yorkers, especially the mayor, may welcome that view after the prevalence of pandemic-era images like a deserted Times Square and boarded-up storefronts amid last summer’s protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

“I can’t think of a better place than the Great Lawn of Central Park to be the place where you say that New York is reopening,” Davis said in an interview.

Davis said that de Blasio called him three weeks ago, around the time of Davis’ latest Grammy gala, which he has been hosting annually since 1976, and was divided into two parts this year.

As Davis recalled, the mayor asked him to present a show in partnership with the city that would celebrate New York’s reopening and emphasise the need to vaccinate more young people.

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