12.12.12. The Concert for Sandy Relief

13 Dec

IThe WHo figured it was only right that I give a review of this sprawling epic, considering I had the opportunity to see it in a movie theater (more on that later).  The devastation of Hurricane Sandy needed a relieving evening like tonight, and while there were a lot of awkward moments and some downright bad moments, overall, I think the evening was a riveting success, and I just want to share some of my thoughts. 

Let’s set the scene:  The largest screen in the theater.  4 People.  My husband, myself and two strangers seated waaaay in the back.  The sound quality was atrocious, but  the video was larger than life and gorgeous.  I figured it balanced out OK.  I had my phone with me, taking down the set list like I was at a gig.  It was awesome.

Act by Act:

Bruce Springsteen:

The boss really lit it up tonight, playing four of his most uplifting tracks, from “Land of Hopes and Dreams” to perennial favorite, “Born to Run”.  He probably could have played more, but almost every song was a sprawling number, save the finale, “Born to Run” which had a guest vocal from Jon Bon Jovi, who was wearing the most hideous leather shirt I have ever seen.  Funny enough, this is the second time I’ve seen Bruce and Jon Bon play together.  A nice little snippet of Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl” was a beautiful surprise.  And of course, the Boss had great things to say about the tragedy and the rebuilding.  A beautiful opening to the night.

Interlude:

Billy Crystal is a favorite MC of mine, though I know not everyone agrees.  I thought he really carried himself well tonight, and didn’t try too hard with the jokes.

Roger Waters:

I expected the Wall and only the Wall, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear a few tracks from Dark Side of the Moon as well.  The confusing part for me was expecting Eddie Vedder all night, thanks to the slip from Waters the night before, so the odd looking man singing on all of the songs that Waters doesn’t had me thinking that Vedder was suffering from ‘roid rage or something.  When he finally joined Roger for “Comfortably Numb” it was one of the best experiences of the night.  I was only sad to see that that was apparently all the offering we were getting from Vedder this evening.

Interlude:
Adam Sandler and Paul Schaffer’s desecration of “Hallelujah” may have had most people up in arms, but I thought it was fairly amusing.  Not the best thing Sandler’s ever done, and I think it would have been better for everyone if he’d just done the Hanukkah song.  Meanwhile, Sandler was the first of many celebrities tonight that looked incredibly high/inebriated.

Brian Williams was not at his best this evening.  I thought he was being pretty rude to Whoopi Goldberg who was excited to be on the phone with people donating to the cause.

Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart shows up to awkwardly introduce Bon Jovi.  She reads stats about the tragedy from a cue card.  She also looks like she just rolled out of a garbage can, shot up some heroin and then wound up here somehow.

Bon Jovi:

I don’t hide my affinity for Bon Jovi, but I had to go to the bathroom so badly while they were playing.  I have never more badly wanted them to play “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” than I did in that moment, and of course, when I was ready to take my restroom break, Springsteen joins them for the number.  It was the worst musical trainwreck I’ve ever experienced.  One of my favorite musicians singing one of the worst songs ever recorded. Meanwhile, Bon Jovi sounded great.  I may have to drag my husband to see them this summer after all.  Really fond of the acoustic intro used for “Living on a Prayer”.

Interlude:

Jon Stewart, ever the fantastic public speaker shares his thoughts, and it was truly wonderful.

Eric Clapton:

Clapton showed up, sat down, played some acoustic, got out his electric, jammed to two more tracks and left.  It was really like he was a breeze that swept through Madison Square Garden with some funky guitar and then vanished.

Interlude:

The videos of the relief efforts really began to roll in with gusto at this point, and all were treated with love and care.  The people in the audience tonight did amazing things and it was a touching experience to be able to share in their accomplishments.

Jimmy Fallon shows up, all hopped up on speed or the cocaine…awkward.

The Rolling Stones:

This was one of the greatest disappointments in my entire life.  First, Mick makes an incredibly disparaging remark about the hurricane, then they play two songs and leave.  Huge let-down.  They’ve been my #1 must-see live act for about 6 or 7 years and after that, I’m really second-guessing going when they tour later this year.

Interlude:

Stephen Colbert almost salvaged the situation, using brotherhood and helping one another as a form of addictive drug, urging people to go try it because, “Everybody’s doing it.”  It was great.  I love that guy.

Unfortunately right after that P. Diddy and Olivia Wilde showed up.  Wilde, also on some sort of uppers was a little TOO excited when talking about hospital evacuations during the flooding.

Alicia Keys:

Like Clapton, it almost seemed like Keys was here simply to be in, out and on her way, only playing two songs, one of which was an awkwardly long rendition of “No One”.

Steve Buscemi:

As bad as the Stones were, Buscemi may have been the most awkward moment of the night.  He was surrounded by volunteer workers who were so drunk they wouldn’t let him get a word in without loudly cat-calling.  Unfortunately, Buscemi also seemed to not know how to use a microphone, causing the sound to go out every now and then (also making it seem like he was cussing like a sailor).  This all skyrocketed into a perfect storm in which Buscemi actually turned around and snapped at some firemen.  It was…uncomfortable to watch.

The Who:

Things were beginning to look grim for the 12.12.12 concert and, if you read my previous review on The Who at the Super Bowl, perhaps you can understand why I thought the night was about to reach disaster of epic proportions.

Instead, the Who came out and made me SERIOUSLY regret not seeing them when they were here last month.  No one sounds good at the Super Bowl, true, but The Who improved on that performance in so many ways.  Embracing the past instead of trying to ignore the fact that only two original band members remain was the biggest difference.  They performed “Bell Boy” and instead of having someone else sing Keith Moon’s part, they simply allowed him to sing it himself through old footage as Roger watched him from the stage.  It was one of the most moving things I have ever seen, and not even a Moon fan, I almost cried.

They rocked, they rolled, they said Fuck on live television, TWICE, it was brilliant.  Truly the highlight of the night, and now the fodder of one of my biggest musical regrets.

I still don’t understand why they’re so proud of their bellies though.  Maybe it’s Roger’s incredible scar that he’s so proud of, I don’t know.

It really dawned on me at this point that The Who, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel are all in the same place practically at the same time and my head about exploded.

Kanye West:

His performance left me breathless.  I think in just about 30 minutes, West played snippets from 14 songs.  It was incredible.  Hated that he, nor Alicia Keys were visited by Jay-Z though.   Really would have been fun, but Kanye really held his own.  And his tongue.  I was on the edge of my seat waiting for him to screw up, but he handled himself brilliantly, and I think he even managed to engage a crowd that was no where near his target audience.  Good show.

At this point, it was getting late, so we left the theater.  I drove stupidly fast to get home because I had been waiting all night for…

Billy Joel:

I confess, I love Billy Joel, I always have for as long as I can remember.  He was one of my first favorite “rock stars”, so seeing him tonight was awesome for me because, believe it or not, I have never seen him perform live that I can remember.  He did not disappoint.  His voice was excellent, he really went hard on all songs and even played “River of Dreams” which I will also admit to being a huge fan of.  He also played a beautiful little snippet of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (the only artist, it would seem, to realize what month it is) and closed with an excellent performance of “Only The Good Die Young”.

If I never see Billy Joel live, my life will be a little less for it.

Christ Martin:

I was not looking forward to this, but after a decent rendition of acoustic “Viva La Vida”, the “world” was treated to a shock as he was joined by Michael Stipe to perform “Losing My Religion”, which Stipe took on vocals for most of.  It was great to hear the R.E.M. legend, and further cemented my sincere wish that that band get back together someday.

Interlude:

A super amped Quentin Tarantino is one of the simple joys of life.

Paul McCartney:

Well, the rumors were true.  Paul McCartney fronted a reunited Nirvana on a jam session song called “Cut Me Some Slack” which will apparently be part of an upcoming Grohl film.  Meanwhile, McCartney absolutely tore it up on stage, rocking out to “Helter Skelter” and a pyrotechnic heavy version of “Live and Let Die” to close the night.  In the middle of that were a few Wings songs and an awesome, awesome performance of “Blackbird”.  I love this man.  I really do.  It’s wonderful to see him still perform so well after all these years.

Finally, Alicia Keys returned to the stage to sing the song we were all waiting for “Empire State of Mind” a gorgeous and somber end to an evening full of hope for rebirth for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and all cities/states effected by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  It was a beautiful tribute.  Thank you, especially to The Who for getting things back on track in a big way.  Apologies if this seemed kind of light on info.  For some reason my keyboard is lagging so far behind what I’m typing  I can hardly stand it.

You can donate to the Robin Hood Relief Fund by visiting the 12.12.12 Concert web page at: http://www.121212concert.org/

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