On Thursday night, a stable of legendary artists came together for the third annual running of Love Rocks NYC, a benefit for God’s Love We Deliver at New York’s iconic Beacon Theatre. To call this affair “star-studded” would be an understatement, as a virtually unbelievable parade of high-profile musicians, comedians, and more graced the stage throughout the 3+ hour performance.
Throughout the night, a steady stream of incredible artists rotated in for a few songs each. Among the mind-boggling group of featured artists were Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow, Hozier, Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart, Buddy Guy, Billy F Gibbons, Grace Potter, Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, Lukas Nelson, Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II, Mavis Staples, Bernie Williams, Ivan Neville, Cyril Neville, Marcus King, Larkin Poe, Alice Smith, and Mike Flanigin.
These featured performers were backed up by a seasoned supergroup house band featuring the likes of Larry Campbell, Steve Gadd, Eric Krasno, Shawn Pelton, Paul Shaffer, Jeff Young, and more led by musical director and bandleader Will Lee. The band was augmented throughout the night by the God’s Love Horns (featuring Evan Barker, Ron Blake, Joe Fiedler, Aaron Heick, Jim Hynes, and Andy Snitzer) and the We Deliver Singers (featuring Elaine Caswell, Dennis Collins, Chrissi Poland, Nikki Richards, and Neal Coomer). When Bill Murray referred to the house band as “the greatest band in the history of rock and roll,” you would have been hard-pressed to find a single person in the audience that disagreed on this night.
In between acts, a top-notch cast of hosts and other non-musical personalities—including Murray, Martin Short, Chevy Chase, Kevin Bacon, and more—took the stage to keeps the audience’s attention focused on the evening’s main goal: raising money for God’s Love We Deliver, the non-profit that provides free meals for New Yorkers and their families who are unable to cook for themselves due to a variety of illnesses.
Love Rocks NYC 2019 Recap Video
With so much star power in the building, virtually every moment of Love Rocks NYC’s third-annual event was a highlight in its own right. Here are just a few of our favorite moments from an unforgettable night at the Beacon, illustrated with videos courtesy of Scott Gibson (sgibson818). You can also watch a full-show video playlist here.
Grace Potter Channels Grace Slick With “White Rabbit”
The first featured performer to join the house band was Grace Potter, who twirled in gracefully in a flowing white outfit for an emotive rendition of Jefferson Airplane‘s “White Rabbit”. She stuck around after the more somber selection for a dynamic performance of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Proud Mary”.
Grace Potter – “White Rabbit” [Jefferson Airplane cover]
Grace Potter – “Proud Mary” [CCR cover]
Buddy Guy Sings About What He Was Just Doing Backstage
After an introduction from Bill Murray, Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy took the stage in his trademark white-spotted. Following a rendition of “Damn I’ve Got The Blues”, Guy joked that he “just quit doing what this [next] song is all about, in my dressing room. I was drinkin’…cognac.” A boozy, bluesy performance of “Cognac” followed, the entire Beacon Theatre grooving along.
Buddy Guy – “Cognac”
Ivan and Cyril Neville Bring NOLA To Love Rocks NYC
Actor Kevin Bacon introduced members of “The First Family of New Orleans” at Love Rocks NYC. While just Ivan Neville was billed as a featured artist for the evening, he brought along his uncle and Neville Brothers legend Cyril Neville to help out. In addition, the God’s Love Horns stepped to center stage for the Nevilles’ performance to help bring the energy of Frenchmen Street to the heart of Manhattan.
Ivan Neville, Cyril Neville – “Street Parade”
Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Bernie Williams Pack Their Leaving Trunk
The blues continued to dominate the evening as multiple Grammy-winner Keb Mo and New York Yankees legend/excellent guitarist Bernie Williams took the stage for their moment in the spotlight. After running through “We’re A Winner”, they added another NYC legend, Taj Mahal, to the mix to lead them in a rendition of “Leaving Trunk” on harmonica and vocals. Taj would stick around (on banjo this time) for “All Around This World” to close out the segment.
Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Bernie Williams – “Leaving Trunk”
Hozier Takes The Beacon To Church With Help From Mavis Staples
A newer face in a lineup packed with legends, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier validated his current global popularity (and then some) with a segment that featured powerful renditions of rock and roll classic “Higher and Higher” and his own hit, “Take Me To Church”. To close out his Love Rocks NYC spot, Hozier took noticeable pleasure in welcoming the legendary Mavis Staples to help him sing one of his newer tracks, “Nina Cried Power”, on which she also collaborated for the studio version. After Hozier took his bows, Staples stuck around to lead the house band in a performance of “Wade In The Water”.
Hozier – “Your Love Keeps Lifting Me (Higher and Higher)” [Jackie Wilson cover]
Hozier – “Take Me To Church”
Hozier, Mavis Staples – “Nina Cried Power”
Bill Murray, Martin Short, Chevy Chase Charmingly Butcher The Blues
In one of the more amusing portions of the evening, Paul Shaffer introduced Bill Murray and Martin Short, who in turn introduced surprise guest and fellow comedic legend Chevy Chase. Together, the three funnymen issued a rendition of “Birth of the Blues”. Afterward, Murry took some slightly embarrassed satisfaction in the fact that the three non-musical stars had just essentially butchered a beloved song surrounded by many of the greatest musicians on the planet. It may not have been the most musically advanced performance of the night, but it was surely the funniest.
Bill Murray, Martin Short, Chevy Chase – “Birth Of The Blues”
Sheryl Crow Can’t Believe How Great This Band Is
Following the comedic interlude, Murry and Short introduced Sheryl Crow to the Beacon crowd. She emerged with Doyle Bramhall II in tow for a number her biggest hits including “If It Makes You Happy”, “Every Day Is A Winding Road”, and “All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun”. Between songs, Crow made specific note to gush over how incredible the house band was and express her gratitude toward getting the chance to play with such talented artists. To close her mini-set, Crow welcomed Lukas Nelson back to the stage to help her, Bramhall, and the house band through a Beacon-appropriate rendition of the Allman Brothers Band‘s “Midnight Rider”. True to his own roots playing with Eric Clapton, Bramhall even threw a quick “Layla” tease in at the end of the song for good measure.
Sheryl Crow, Lukas Nelson, Doyle Bramhall – “Midnight Rider” [Allman Brothers Band cover]
Billy F Gibbons, Bernie Williams Get Foxy
Toward the end of the show, ZZ Top‘s Billy F Gibbons took the stage (along with Bernie Williams) for a pair of rocking songs. After a run through ZZ Top’s “Legs”, Gibbons and Williams threw it back to the late Jimi Hendrix with a fuzzed-out rendition of “Foxy Lady” to the delight of the crowd. Bernie Williams took an impressive guitar solo during the song, leading Bill Murray searching for a word to describe it once the guitarists left the stage. Bill ended up deciding that the word to describe Bernie Williams’ playing was “clutch.”
Billy F Gibbons, Bernie Williams – “Foxy Lady” [Jimi Hendrix cover]
Ann & Nancy Wilson Of Heart Go Crazy On Us For The First Time In Years
One of the evening’s most highly anticipated appearances was that of Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, the sisters at the heart of Heart. The two recently mended fences and announced an extensive new Heart tour following years of animosity, and this appearance marked the first live taste of the newly reunited Wilson sisters. After working through “These Dreams”, the Wilsons let loose with an excitedly-received rendition of their 1975 hit, “Crazy On You”.
Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson (of Heart) – “Crazy On You”
Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow Reimagine Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”
When Robert Plant, one of the evening’s most highly anticipated performers, took the stage toward the end of the show, the house band’s backing singers stepped to center stage with him to harmonize on “Don’t”—a stylistic departure that the Led Zeppelin vocalist clearly appreciated. Next, he welcomed Jimmie Vaughan to help him get back to basics on “A Mess of Blues”. From there, he welcomed Sheryl Crow back to the stage to duet with him on “Rich Woman” and a re-vamped arrangement of “Black Dog” before closing his own mini-set with “Thank You” featuring a particularly searing guitar solo from Eric Krasno.
Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow – “Black Dog”
Everyone’s “Feelin’ Alright” At The End Of The Night
With the midnight curfew drawing closer, Plant welcomed back Lukas Nelson, Jimmie Vaughan, Taj Mahal, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Grace Potter, and more for a sing-along rendition of rock and roll classic “Shake, Rattle and Roll”. For the grand finale, the entire Love Rocks NYC cast rejoined the fray to contribute to a group rendition of “Feelin’ Alright”.
Robert Plant, Lukas Nelson, Taj Mahal, Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Grace Potter, Jimmie Vaughan, & More – “Shake, Rattle and Roll”
Love Rocks NYC Full Cast – “Feelin’ Alright”
See below for a full setlist from the evening. For more information about Love Rocks NYC/Gods Love We Deliver and information on how to get involved, head here.
Setlist: Love Rocks NYC | The Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 3/7/19
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)