Musicians line out for Sandy benefit
Musicians were so intent upon helping victims of Superstorm Sandy that they did not seem to want their benefit concert in New York to end.
The final notes of Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind closed the star-studded show nearly six hours after Bruce Springsteen set a roaring tone with Land of Hope and Dreams.
In between, the Madison Square Garden stage hosted a part-reunion of Nirvana with Sir Paul McCartney standing in for Kurt Cobain, a duet between Coldplay’s Chris Martin and former REM singer Michael Stipe, Kanye West wearing a leather kilt, and enough British music royalty to fill an old rockers’ home.
The sold-out show was televised live, streamed online, played on the radio and shown in theatres all over the world. Producers said up to two billion people
were able to experience it live.
“I know you really wanted One Direction,” Martin, speaking onstage at 12.15am local time, said of the popular British boyband.
“But it’s way past their bedtime. That’s why you get one quarter of Coldplay.” Stipe joined him for a performance of REM’s Losing My Religion.
The participants, many natives of the area and others who know it well, struck a defiant tone in asking for help to rebuild sections of the New York metropolitan area devastated by the late October storm.
“When are you going to learn?” comic and New Jersey native Jon Stewart said. “You can throw anything at us - terrorists, hurricanes. You can take away our giant sodas. It doesn’t matter. We’re coming back stronger every time.”
Jersey shore hero Springsteen addressed the rebuilding process in introducing his song My City of Ruins, noting it was written about the decline of Asbury Park, New Jersey, before that city’s renaissance over the past decade.
He mixed a verse of Tom Waits’s Jersey Girl into the song before calling New Jersey neighbour Jon Bon Jovi to join him in a rousing Born to Run.
Springsteen later returned the favour by joining Bon Jovi on Who Says You Can’t Go Home.
Adam Sandler hearkened back to his Saturday Night Live days with a ribald rewrite of Leonard Cohen’s oft-covered Hallelujah. The rewritten chorus goes: “Sandy, screw ya, we’ll get through ya, because we’re New Yawkers.”
Ticket prices ranged from $150 to $2,500. Even with those prices, people with tickets had been offering them for more on the internet, an attempt at profiteering that producers said was “despicable”.
“This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden,” Rolling Stones rocker Sir Mick Jagger said. “If it rains in London, you’ve got to come and help us.”