Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters and More Play Historic 12.12.12 Concert at MSG
Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Bon Jovi, Christ Martin, Michael Stipe, Dave Grohl and more took the stage last night at Madison Square Garden for the 12.12.12 Concert for Sandy Relief. The all-star line up put on the epic show to raise money for the Robin Hood Relief Fund’s hurricane recovery efforts. In addition to the myriad musicians who made appearances, there were also a significant number of actors, comedians and others who brought their star power to the event. As NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted early in the show, “You really can’t swing a dead cat in here without hitting a celebrity.”
Bruce Springsteen kicked off the music with a four-song set that included a rendition of “My City of Ruins,” with a verse from Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl.” The New Jersey native closed out his set with Jon Bon Jovi joining him for a duet of “Born to Run.”
Next up was Roger Waters, who brought some grandiosity to the concert as he hit the stage with “In the Flesh,” the opening track from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Waters mixed up some tunes from the album—which he has been playing on tour for many years—with the Dark Side of the Moon tracks “Money” and “Us and Them.” In one of the highlights of the night, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder took up vocal duties (where David Gilmour did on the recording) on “Comfortably Numb” to close Waters’ set.
Adam Sandler and Paul Schaffer took a shot at providing some comic relief as the two comedians performed a song about the resilience of New Yorkers to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The duo were followed by Bon Jovi, who played through a few hits, with Springsteen joining him for the ever appropriate “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”
Of all the old rock and rollers who contributed to the 12.12.12 event, Eric Clapton appears to have aged the most gracefully. The legendary guitarist proved he could still play with the best of them, picking away on blues classics like Jimmy Cox’s “Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out” and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads.” He definitely looked more stage-ready than Mick Jagger, who seemed to be expending every ounce of energy left in his body during the Stones’ two song set, which included their first live “You Got Me Rocking” since 2007. Jagger made light of the evening’s septuagenarian heavy lineup, noting that the concert was likely the largest collection of aging English musicians in the history of Madison Square Garden.
The Who were up next with what was probably the longest set of the night. The rock icons—who will be on the cover of the forthcoming January-February issue of Relix—played through a few classics, including numbers such as “Bell Boy” and “Love Reign O’er Me” from Quadrophenia which they’re currently performing in its entirety on tour. Roger Daltrey set Twitter ablaze when he unbuttoned his shirt, showing off his bare chest to crowd. Things like that aren’t usually considered kosher for such an event but you have to admire a man who pulls a move like that on national television. Now that’s confidence. (Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend also let a few uncensored F-Bombs fly as well.)
Daltrey, however, was not the only artist set on making a fashion statement last night. Kanye West powered through his hits-filled performance wearing some kind of leather skirt— though perhaps “kilt” is a more appropriate label. Either way, West had a hard time finding a place for himself in the middle of a lineup that, with the exception of Alicia Keys, was more or less rock oriented.
The lull in the hard rock continued through Billy Joel’s set, which was probably the second longest of the night. While the music wasn’t as loud or as fast as much of what came before, the singer/songwriters’ presence still felt appropriate. Joel even brought some holiday cheer into the mix, adding a verse from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to his song “New York State of Mind.” He was followed by Chris Martin, who did acoustic versions of a few Coldplay songs. In what was perhaps the biggest genuine surprise of the night, R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe came out to join Martin for a rendition of “Losing My Religion.”
The show came to a close after almost five hours with Sir Paul McCartney—easily the most anticipated act of the night. News of McCartney’s impending performance with a reunited Nirvana was leaked early yesterday, and fans across the globe eagerly anticipated what the collaboration would bring. Opening with “Helter Skelter” his set included a solo acoustic reading of “Blackbird” and “My Valentine” with Diana Krall before he was joined by Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. Unfortunately the group did not delve into any of Nirvana’s old material, instead debuting their new song “Cut Me Some Slack” which came across surprisingly well. His band returned for “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Live and Let Die.”
Alicia Keys then took the stage for an encore rendition of “New York State of Mind,” though the audience was little disappointed that the event did not end with an all-star finale, as is often the case with these kinds of benefit shows.
In addition to the music, there were also a number of comedy routines, as well as various uplifting stories of hope and heroism in the wake of the hurricane throughout the night. Unfortunately a majority of the attempts at comic relief were utter failures, especially the cringe-worthy “Drunk Uncle” sketch featuring Seth Myers and Bobby Moynihan of Saturday Night Live. However the funniest moment of the night was totally unplanned, as actor Steve Buscemi awkwardly tried to deliver a speech while surrounded by a group of rowdy, and possibly intoxicated, volunteer first responders from New York City.
While many of the performances were not as stellar as anticipated, it was still a historic night for music fans everywhere. The impressive collection of rock and roll legends is unmatched in recent memory, and the event certainly raised a lot of money for a worthy cause. A number of the night’s highlights can be viewed here, and the evenings full setlist can be viewed below.
12.12.12 Concert for Sandy Relief setlist
• Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band ◦ Land of Hope and Dreams ◦ Wrecking Ball ◦ My City of Ruins ◦ Born To Run (w/ Jon Bon Jovi)
• Roger Waters ◦ In The Flesh ◦ The Happiest Days of Our Lives ◦ Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2 ◦ The Ballad Of Jean Charles de Menezes ◦ Money ◦ Us and Them ◦ Comfortably Numb (w/ Eddie Vedder)
• Adam Sandler with Paul Shaffer ◦ Hallelujah
• Bon Jovi ◦ It’s My Life ◦ Wanted Dead or Alive ◦ Who Says You Can’t Go Home (w/ Bruce Springsteen) ◦ Living On A Prayer
• Eric Clapton ◦ Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out ◦ Got To Get Better In A Little While ◦ Crossroads
• Rolling Stones ◦ You Get Me Rocking ◦ Jumping Jack Flash
• Alicia Keys ◦ Brand New Me ◦ No One
• The Who ◦ Who Are You ◦ Bell Boy ◦ Pinball Wizard ◦ See Me Feel Me/Listening To You ◦ Baba O’Riley ◦ Love Reign O’er Me ◦ Tea and Theatre
• Kanye West ◦ Clique > Mercy > Power > Jesus Walks > All Of The Lights > Diamonds From Sierra Leone > Diamonds > Touch The Sky ◦ Gold Digger ◦ Good Life ◦ Runaway ◦ Stronger
• Billy Joel ◦ 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
• Chris Martin ◦ Viva La Vida ◦ Losing My Religion (w/ Michael Stipe) ◦ Us Against The World • Paul McCartney ◦ Helter Skelter ◦ Let Me Roll It ◦ 1985 ◦ My Valentine (w/ Diana Krall) ◦ Blackbird ◦ Cut Me Some Slack (w/ Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic) ◦ I’ve Got A Feeling ◦ Live and Let Die
• Alicia Keys ◦ Empire State Of Mind