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10 Stand-Out Moments from Global Citizen India Festival

Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoting Bob Dylan, Coldplay and A.R. Rahman’s goosebumps-inducing collab, a fiery bass solo by Mohini Dey and more

Rolling Stone India Nov 21, 2016
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Photo: Courtesy of Global Citizen Festival India

Although the Global Citizen Festival had its own share of awkward moments (read performances by Bollywood actor Shraddha Kapoor and electronic music duo Nina & Malika), the event managed to pick up pace and enthrall everyone at its India debut on Saturday, November 19th. With a lineup comprising some of the biggest Indian and international artists, it featured exciting collaborations and stellar showmanship. Here are a few moments that stood out.

1. A.R. Rahman’s Cinematic Opening Track


Photo: Courtesy of Global Citizen Festival India

The Grammy Award-winning composer started performance with a cinematic, almost eerie, track which gripped the audience. Rahman, dressed in an eye-catching saffron bandhgala, generously showed off his synth wizardry on this electronic music-infused composition.


2. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi Quoted Bob Dylan


Photo: Courtesy of Global Citizen Festival India

Modi recited lines from the Nobel Laureate’s iconic 1964 track “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and had the crowd at Global Citizen roaring in approval. He also managed to cause a bit of a jam on Twitter with at least a million tweets going out at once about this speech.


3. When Jay Z Told Everyone to Light Up During ”˜Holy Grail’

Jay Z

Photo: Courtesy of Global Citizen Festival India

Right before launching into his 2013 hit “Holy Grail”, the American rapper pulled a standard showmanship trick and asked the audience of 80,000 to raise their phones with the flashlight on. In seconds, the arena metamorphosed into a stunning sea of lights that stretched from the front to the back.

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4. Chris Martin with the Indian flag

The Coldplay frontman celebrated the band’s first show in India by passionately waving the Indian flag during the performance of “A Sky Full Of Stars” from their 2014 album Ghost Stories.


5. When Demi Lovato Owned the Stage with her Set 


Photo: Courtesy of Global Citizen Festival India

The American singer radiated power and confidence during her India debut, stepping out pretty early in the evening and getting the crowd pumped up and chanting the chorus of “Cool For The Summer”even as she nailed the high notes on the hit song.


6. The Audience Singing the Chorus of Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind”


The roar of the crowd was almost deafening during the song’s refrain, guided by a backing track of Alicia Keys’s vocals, making Hova stop and listen with a huge smile on his face.

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7. When Bradley Simpson from The Vamps Took Control of the Camera

Brad from the Vamps at Global Citizen

Bradley Simpson taking over the camera at Global Citizen Festival India

The energetic young frontman decided to go for a walk on the central ramp, playfully pulling along one of the cameramen with him and providing the audience a glimpse of the artists’ view from the stage


8. A. R. Rahman Singing “Vande Mataram” with Coldplay

The music maestro performed his famous 1997 version of the Indian national song with Coldplay and got Martin to sing along with him. Social went into a tizzy, of course!


9. Mohini Dey’s Groovy Bass Solo

Eighteen-year-old Mumbai bassist Mohini Dey stole the show during A.R. Rahman’s set with a fiery solo between songs such as “Dil Se” and “Humma Humma.”


10. When Coldplay Performed “Fix You”

Easily the emotional tipping point and highlight of the festival, we’d say: over 80,000 voices coming together to sing the track the band penned down more than a decade ago. Chris Martin signed off with the promise that they’d be back in India soon. So long!

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