Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Concert for Sandy Relief

Tonight's one-off extravaganza at Madison Square Garden was similar in spirit to the historic Concert For New York City at the same venue, eleven years ago. There were stories of courage, loss, heartbreak, and hope from the hurricane victims and rescuers from the small towns and communities of New York and New Jersey, especially from the Jersey Shore. The performing artists were there to give and provide something these people can face their days with. Most of them were over the age of the fifty; it is truly something to watch one legend after another taking the stage, bringing along their A-game.

I never expected Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band to open the show. But it seems appropriate though; how strong that connection is between Bruce and NY/NJ. And since this is a worldwide broadcast/stream, chances are you get the biggest audience right at the start, and hopefully they got to get a taste of the greatest live band of all time. And with Land Of Hope And Dreams to start things off? Amazing. At the end of My City Of Ruins, Bruce even added a snippet of Jersey Girl in there.

There were a few surprises throughout the five-plus hours. Jon Bon Jovi trading lines with Bruce on Born To Run, and Bruce returning the favor during Bon Jovi's set. Eddie Vedder doing the chorus on Comfortably Numb with Roger Waters' Wall touring band -- now that was a huge surprise, and Eddie pulled it off perfectly. Waters also did Money, then going into Us And Them. Eric Clapton, no-frills as always, played a short but ass-kicking set, three songs you'd least expect him to do. Oh yeah, also not forgetting Adam Sandler who did a hilarious parody of Hallelujah, accompanied by Paul Shaffer on piano.

The Rolling Stones came halfway through the night, but they only played TWO songs! But man, wasn't it awesome seeing those old guys tear through Jumpin' Jack Flash? That was actually the most emotional moment for me personally. The Who played much longer, and they were bloody great. The big surprise was Bell Boy, which I believe was the only song where Keith Moon sang on. It was a nice tribute to him. I didn't catch all of Kanye West's set, but what I saw I thought was crap. Who invited him? Funny how the camera rarely cut to all those middle-aged white folks on the floor during this part of the broadcast. Jay-Z would've been a better choice.

Billy Joel's set is probably my favorite after Springsteen's; you can't mention Billy Joel without mentioning New York City. He has been out of the limelight for quite a while and even then, he played and sang as good as he had ever been. I LOVED Only The Good Die Young. Chris wonder what he's doing there. Good thing he didn't bring his band along. But he did have someone come out to sing with him, resulting in the BIGGEST surprise of the night. Michael Stipe. Losing My Religion. Enough said. After watching this, I'm beginning to like Chris Martin a bit more.

As the night's closer, Sir Paul McCartney didn't really go down the 'greatest hits' route. He had Diana Krall on one of his new songs. And then next he had Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, which led to a Nirvana reunion of sorts. They premiered a brand new tune called Cut Me Some Slack, which will appear on Dave's upcoming Sound City documentary film [link]. It wasn't that big of a thing that people made it out to be, though it was cool to see Sir Paul rocking out with these grunge pioneers. Without any all-star jam, the finale was kinda anti-climatic, but keeping up with the spirit of things, I guess it was fitting to end with Alicia Keys singing Empire State Of Mind, with the firefighters, policemen and many helpers onstage.

The concert soundtrack is available for pre-order now and proceeds will go to those in need [link].

P.S. One of my favorite moments also was watching the cast of The Sopranos answering calls at the phone bank!