For three and a half minutes last night, over two thousand people closed their eyes and sat in total silence in Carnegie Hall. They were practicing Transcendental Meditation, the cause that had brought them all together that evening. With proceeds funding an initiative to teach 10,000 at-risk New Yorkers to meditate, The David Lynch Foundation Benefit Concert instilled the powerful idea that change begins within. There to help deliver that message were none other than Katy Perry, Sting, Jerry Seinfeld, Angelique Kidjo, Sharon Isbin, Jim James and host George Stephanopoulos.
Jerry Seinfeld immediately commended the crowd for another cause – going out for the evening, in this city. “It is not easy. You’ve got to walk, take a Citi Bike, it’s impossible!” he protested, poking fun at the event’s sponsor, Citi. Hearing an iconic New Yorker lament the struggles of New York living was almost as awesome as relating to his digital age woes. “Everything used to be so simple. But now you have your life, and you have your phone’s battery life,” he said with great intensity. Seinfeld’s routine was naturally hilarious, but he also shared how much Transcendental Mediation had changed his life. He has been practicing the technique for 43 years.
Several unique videos educated us on the goals behind teaching the art, one of which described stress as “the black plague of the 21st century.” Then, alleviating all possible stress, classical guitarist Sharon Isbin graced the stage. The Grammy Award-winner performed some beautiful Latin and Baroque selections, and her varied dynamics were enough to give you chills. The sundry run-of-show also featured Angelique Kidjo, another Grammy winner and, of course, “Africa’s premier diva.” Determined to shake up the seated crowd, she ran straight through the aisles as she sang, high-fiving and dancing until everyone else was too.
Just like his predecessors, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James brought a totally new vibe to the concert. Backed by a full orchestra under the skillful direction of Rob Mathes, James performed a never-before-heard version of “State of the Art.” The string and harp arrangement was devastatingly cool, making it a perfect fit for James’ voice as he eased into the stunning climax. Then Sting took his turn, collecting a rush of screams from the formal crowd. His soothing vocals settled right into place on “Englishman in New York,” and there was a tranquil fluidity to every aspect of his sound. His “Shape of My Heart” was especially impactful in the context of the benefit, with special emphasis on the opening line, “He deals the cards as a meditation.” Sting finished with “Fields of Gold” and “Fragile,” and the standing ovation made every effort to keep him onstage forever.
The grand finale was absolutely flawless for a space like Carnegie Hall. Glowing in a dramatic pink gown (with a matching pink mic), Katy Perry showed us a side of “Roar” we’ve never seen. For her whole set, Mathes’ orchestra built the full accompaniment, making songs like “Teenage Dream” and “Wide Awake” sound almost eerily rich. Perry’s voice shined in the classic setting, and some special guests made her last song, “Firework,” unforgettable. Four ballerinas blossomed around her in traditional pink tutus, with toes pointing perfectly in time on her “oh, oh, oh”s.
“I hope you’re thoroughly inspired this evening to do something good for yourself,” said Perry, reminding us that inner peace is something everyone can benefit from.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley