helluva lineup for this one
from ny times
Homestate heroes, a British rock pantheon, one rapper and one woman performed for 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, a benefit for the Robin Hood Relief Fund that was broadcast worldwide from Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, from New Jersey, and Billy Joel, long identified with Long Island, were on their second Sandy telethon, following an NBC studio broadcast on Nov. 2 (though this time Mr. Bon Jovi brought his band, Bon Jovi). They were joined by Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters from Pink Floyd and Chris Martin from Coldplay. “This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden,” Mick Jagger joshed. “If it rains in London, you’ve got to come and help us.”
The youngsters on the bill were Kanye West, 35, and Alicia Keys, 31.
Performing after a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the coastline from the Jersey Shore through New York and Connecticut, musicians have to decide who they’re singing to and what they’ll sing about. As bands set up, the concert audience saw and heard about places Sandy had smashed through, introduced by comedians and actresses, among them Billy Crystal, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Chris Rock, Seth McFarlane, Kristen Stewart and Katie Holmes.
But were the musicians supposed to be singing about the situation? Sending a message to the people affected? Entertaining the potential donors and paying customers (who spent $30 million for the pricey tickets at Madison Square Garden)? Surveying their own careers?
The 12-12-12 performers did some of each, giving their best for television cameras with a potential audience, the Robin Hood Foundation said, of 2 billion people.
Bruce Springsteen, who opened the concert, can easily do them all at once; he’s the master of the socially conscious message that’s also a full-tilt rock concert. He and the E Street Band, with its recently expanded horn section and some tambourine-shaking backup singers, were in their joyful gospel-inspirational mode for 12-12-12. They charged through “Land of Hope and Dreams,” “Wrecking Ball,” “My City of Ruins” (a song he originally wrote about Asbury Park, N.J.) and “Born to Run,” which had Mr. Bon Jovi sharing lead vocals. “Hard times come and hard times go,” Mr. Springsteen sang repeatedly in “Wrecking Ball,” a song about Giants Stadium that he relocated, for the evening, from the Meadowlands to the Jersey Shore.
Bon Jovi’s songs — big, vague vows of perseverance against the odds, like “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “It’s My Life” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” — also make ideal benefit-concert singalongs. Mr. Springsteen joined in on “Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again.” Billy Joel, whose songs are full of New York and New Jersey locales, had written a few post-Sandy references into “Miami 2017” and “New York State of Mind,” and his entire set, full of splashy piano playing, reveled in mid-Atlantic pugnacity. “We’re going to get through all this,” he said. “This is New York and New Jersey and Long Island and we’re just too mean to lay down and die.”
Eric Clapton started with a restrained, ragtimey acoustic-guitar version of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” then strapped on an electric guitar to lead a power trio in assertive versions of “Crossroads” and “Got to Get Better in a Little While” — a good benefit sentiment — that unleashed his wailing, jabbing lead guitar. In a vigorous set that leaned on the band’s later hits, Pete Townshend of the Who howled “Sandy wasteland” instead of “teenage wasteland” at the key moment in “Baba O’Riley,” and Roger Daltrey, by then bare-chested, worked up to a well-placed scream in the climactic “Love Reign o’er Me.”
Other performers stretched their songs a little to cover the occasion. Alicia Keys, performing solo at the piano and turning her songs into soulful buildups, sang her “Brand New Me” — a better-off-without-you post-breakup song — and changed it, at the end, to “brand new city.” Her “No One” was better suited to the event; it’s a love song that translated more easily to love for a city. Mr. Martin, also solo, offered two self-pitying Coldplay songs, “Viva La Vida” and “Us Against the World,” but also, wisely, made himself the backup guitarist for an unannounced guest, Michael Stipe, singing his R.E.M. hit “Losing My Religion.”
The Rolling Stones provided both a peak and a slight letdown for the concert. Mr. Jagger made the other performers look lazy. He was in nonstop motion around the stage, a strutting rocker and a mad scarecrow and a hip-swiveling tease, and the band kicked hard behind him, even tauter than they were in Brooklyn on Saturday night. “You Got Me Rocking” was a twangy, slidey taunt; “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” — with its mention of a “cross-fire hurricane” — was all-knowing bravado. Unfortunately, those two songs were all the Stones played.
Mr. Waters’s best-known songs are arena-scale monuments of glum pessimism, and he stuck to them, returning to the Pink Floyd concept albums “The Wall” and “The Dark Side of the Moon,” with Eddie Vedder joining him to sing “Comfortably Numb.” Mr. West’s rhymes are usually convoluted bursts of self-promotion, self-protection and self-criticism, but his production makes them imposing. At the Garden, he strung together excerpts from new and old songs with barreling energy, and a booming subwoofer boost made them triumphal.
Mr. McCartney had the night’s newest song, a collaboration with the surviving members of Nirvana: Dave Grohl on drums, Krist Novoselic on bass and Pat Smear on guitar. It was a stomping riff like a grunge homage to the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” and it looked like Mr. McCartney was having fun belting lyrics like “Mama, watch me run/Mama let me have some fun” as the band bashed away. But Mr. McCartney had already sung “Helter Skelter” with his own band, as part of an idiosyncratic set that avoided big hit singles in favor of songs like Wings’ “Let Me Roll It” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” and the Beatles’ “Blackbird” — rededicated to people now struggling after Sandy — and a recent McCartney ballad, “My Valentine,” with Diana Krall on piano. He finished his set with a major pyrotechnics display on “Live and Let Die,” which he then dedicated to firefighters.
Firefighters filled the stage for the finale, as Ms. Keys returned to sing “Empire State of Mind Part II,” with its chorus of “New York, New York.” This wasn’t a benefit for some faraway catastrophe; this was close to home.