“Ed Sheeran said the Forest Hills Stadium was one of the coolest places he ever played,” said promoter Mike Luba. “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,” he said.
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,” all leading 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.”
Niky King and friends came all the way from England for the show. “It was brilliant,” she said.
On May 30, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were the ideal opener for legendary rock band The Who. Jett delivered her classics with energy, including “I Hate Myself For Loving You” and “I Love Rock N’ Roll.”
“The Who Hits 50!” tour, which featured original members Roger Daltrey and Pete Towshend, proved how to rock a packed stadium a half-century later. They performed classics including “I Can’t Explain,” “I Can See For Miles,” “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me, Feel Me.”
Michael Mastrobuoni of Wantagh had a front-row seat and shared some memorable moments.
“Roger Daltrey hushed me since I yelled out to Pete Townshend about how good they still sounded,” he said. “Also, Pete threw a guitar pick, which I actually caught.”
“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. “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.”
“Rock and roll pioneers Joan Jett and The Who provided concertgoers with the true spirit of what playing live is all about,” said Forest Hills resident Pat Lannan. “No computers were needed.
“Roger Daltrey turned to Pete Townshend and asked for a big round of applause for ‘the man who wrote all of this fantastic music,'” he added. “Then I thought, all this brilliant music from one person is a true gift.”
Since the stadium’s restoration and renovation in 2013, the first two full seasons of concerts have proven to be a great success.
“We aim for world-class artists,” Luba said. “We’ve made a bunch of progress with the stadium, and this weekend we saw the magic happen.”