By Frisco Rosso
It was promised to be “the greatest line-up of legends ever assembled on a stage.” Brave words indeed, but when your opening act is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band you may be on to something.
The 12:12:12 superstorm Sandy benefit concert, which played out for six hours on Wednesday, raised an estimated $30m in ticket sales for the Robin Hood Foundation, which provides support and assistance for those hardest hit by the natural disaster, and showcased some of the biggest and oldest names in the music industry.
Staged at Madison Square Garden, New York, notable glitterati took to the stage including The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Michael Stipe, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, The Who, Kanye West and Chris Martin.
With The Boss pulling his patented grimace aplenty, he kicked off the show by belting out some Springsteen classics including the appropriately sombre My City of Ruins and Jersey Girl before being joined by Jon Bon Jovi for Born to Run, the first of numerous artist duets.
Afterwards Roger Waters stepped up for a set of Pink Floyd material that included Money and Another Brick in the Wall before subsequently being joined by Eddie Vedder for a rendition of Comfortably Numb.
Adam Sandler then made an appearance with a lyrically altered version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in an attempt to remind the world that his career isn’t sinking into the Hudson without a fight. The chorus that rang out as “Hallelujah/Sandy, screw ya/We’ll get through ya/’Cause we’re New Yorkers,” sounded gruffly inspirational enough initially (well, from a barfly’s perspective perhaps) before descending into a profound demonstration of why even the most popular comedians can never have too many reasons to be hated.
Bon Jovi got the crowd on its feet shortly afterwards before Eric Clapton returned it to the seated position with several acoustic numbers.
The Rolling Stones later took to the stage and stomped around as much as their pacemakers could handle to the sounds of You’ve Got Me Rocking and Jumping Jack Flash before being followed by Alicia Keys, who kept her set brief with Brand New Me and No One.
Bringing up the rear was The Who, who paraded on with favourites such as Who are You and Baba O’Riley amongst others, closely followed by the leather-kilted set of Kanye West.
The duets continued late into the night as, following on from Billy Joel, Michael Stipe and Chris Martin sang REM classic Losing My Religion and between them managed to raise a smile each.
One of the most anticipated acts of the evening was Paul McCartney’s jam with the surviving, reunited members of Nirvana, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smears. Prior to the show fans and critics were climbing on soapboxes and pouring ants down their trousers en mass at the prospect of this blasphemous musical mix. Fortunately for just about everyone, fears of inappropriately covered Nirvana tracks were subdued as the quartet played their recently written song Cut Me Some Slack. Sadly this meant that my dreams of watching McCartney lose it and smash his instrument through Grohl’s drum kit never played out.
After the show Grohl was quoted as saying, “We did a song that we wrote together. It’s a song that we wrote and recorded, no-one has ever heard it before so nobody knows it exists.
I think people were expecting us to do a Beatles song or a Nirvana song, but when I first called Paul to see if he would come jam with us, none of us wanted to do a Beatles song or a Nirvana song, we wanted to do a new song so we wrote and recorded a new song in a day and it’s heavy as fuck.”
“Heavy” is not an accurate description but Cut Me Some Slack was a fairly enjoyable rock n’ roll romp nonetheless.
Finally Keys returned to the stage and closed the marathon event with an emotionally charged rendition of Empire State of Mind to the enthusiastic applause of a bruised but spirited New York.
The full setlist:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Land of Hope and Dream,Wrecking Ball, My City in Ruins, Working on a Building, Jersey Girl, Born to Run with Jon Bon Jovi
Another Brick in the Wall, Money, Us and Them, Comfortably Numb with Eddie Vedder
Adam Sandler with Paul Schaffer
Rewrite of Hallelujah
It’s My Life, Wanted Dead or Alive, Who Says You Can’t Go Home with Bruce Springsteen, Living on a Prayer
Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out, Got to get Better in a Little While, Crossroads
You Got Me Rocking, Jumpin Jack Flash
Brand New Me, No One
Who are You, Bellboy, Pinball Wizard, See Me, Feel Me, Baba O’Riley, Tea & Theatre
Clique, Mercy, Power, Jesus Walks, Run This Town, Diamonds from Sierra Leone, Touch the Sky, Gold Digger, Good Life, Runaway, Stronger
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway), Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, New York State of Mind, River of Dreams, You May Be Right, Only the Good Die Young
Viva la Vida, Losing My Religion with Michael Stipe, Us Against the World
Helter Skelter, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, My Valentine with Diana Krall, Blackbird, Cut Me Some Slack with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, I Got a Feeling, Live and Let Die
Empire State of Mind
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.