Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ed Sheeran & The Who Opens 2015 Concert Season at Forest Hills Stadium

by Michael Perlman, Perlman PR

Building on the tradition of the hallowed ground at Forest Hills Stadium, where every act from The Beatles to Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan was witnessed mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, the summer 2015 concert season opened with Grammy-nominated singer Ed Sheeran on May 28 and May 29 and The Who on May 30.

Reflecting on definitive moments, concert promoter Mike Luba pointed out, “Ed Sheeran said the Forest Hills Stadium was one of the coolest places he ever played at. The Who returning for the first time since 1971 was absolutely crushing it. They loved it too.” Luba described the community’s response to the opening weekend’s concerts as positive. “Combined with the amazing time both Ed Sheeran and The Who had at their shows, makes me really encouraged about what the future holds for this adventure.”

On May 29, Sheeran opened the evening with “I’m A Mess,” surprised fans with the new track “Sweet Mary Jane,” performed mash-ups, covered classics such as “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Feeling Good,” and led up to a grand finale of “Sing,” where 14 screens featured fans, clips of Sheeran, and music videos. With only a guitar in hand, a soulful voice, and a hip hop hook, he is a one-man dynamo. Roaring screams from a packed audience, dominated by teenage girls led to shout-outs such as “You have the voice of an angel” and “How could you be so cute and so talented at the same time?”

“The stadium is large but is also intimate,” said Sheeran fan and musician Kevin Revis of East Brunswick, New Jersey. “I want to be famous and play here,” he continued. Another fan, Niky King, said “We’ve come all this way from England, and it was brilliant!”

On May 30, punk/hard rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts commanded their audience with much energy, and was the ideal opener for the legendary rock band, The Who. Jett still delivered her classics with much energy, and that included “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and “I Love Rock N’ Roll.” “The Who Hits 50!” tour, which featured two of the original members, Roger Daltrey and Pete Towshend, proved how to rock a packed stadium half a century later. They performed their mid-1960s to 1970s classics, which included “I Can’t Explain,” “I Can See For Miles,”  “Pinball Wizard,” and “See Me, Feel Me.” This concert attracted mostly a middle-aged energetic crowd.

Michael Mastrobuoni of Wantagh, NY had a front row seat and shared some memorable moments. “Roger Daltrey shhhhh'd me since I yelled out to Pete Townshend about how good they still sounded. Also, Pete threw a guitar pick, which I actually caught and was patted on the back by those around me.”

“Some of my favorite bands played here, and being able to see two of those bands at such an iconic site was amazing,” said Forest Hills filmmaker and musician Andrew Akler. He then explained, “Joan Jett’s set really fit the theme of ‘through the years,’ which The Who continued when they came on. Their performance of ‘Love, Reign O'er Me’ was absolutely incredible.”

Forest Hills resident Pat Lannan said, “Rock N’ Roll pioneers Joan Jett and The Who provided concertgoers with the true spirit of what playing live is all about. No computers were needed.” Lannan also addressed a most memorable moment. “Roger Daltrey turned to Pete Townshend and asked for a big round of applause for ‘the man who wrote all of this fantastic music.’ Then I thought, all this brilliant music from one person is a true gift.”

Since the stadium’s restoration and renovation in 2013, season 1 and season 2 have proven to be a great success. Luba said, “We aim for world class artists. We’ve made a bunch of progress with the stadium, and this weekend we saw the magic happen.” Looking ahead, he welcomes a diverse concert program for this third season including The New York Pops. “New York deserves a world class summer venue for orchestral music, with most tickets starting at only $10 and kids are free.”