British invasion: 12-12-12 ConcertPosted: December 15, 2012
Time for some upbeat news today. So here are some thoughts, reportorial and critical, of the 12-12-12 concert.
The concert was scheduled for four hours and thankfully, the producers didn’t cut it off at four. If they had, we would have missed Billy Joel, Chris Martin, Kanye West in his leather kilt — and the final Brit of this British invasion: Sir Paul McCartney. But no curfew wasimposed and the concert ran almost six hours. I was hoping for one of those all-artists-on-stage-for-a-rousing-finale finale, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Sir Paul brought a crowd of firefighters on stage and saluted them for their heroism during Sandy. It was a fitting end for a great concert.
Bruce Springsteen led off with thematic songs rather than his big hits: “Land of Hope and Dreams,” “Wrecking Ball” and “My City of Ruins,” the latter written about Asbury Park but highly relevant today. Then Jon Bon Jovi joined him for a duet of “Born to Run.”
The star-studded event included performances by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam guesting on “Comfortably Numb”, Bon Jovi and Alicia Keys.
Performers included a surprising 21st century British invasion. Mick Jagger said “This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden.” Eric Clapton played a great acoustic number (“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”), then went electric for two more with a band. The Rolling Stones (with 100 percent attendance by Jagger, Richards, Wood and Watts) performed two numbers with Mick at his most energetic. And two surviving members of The Who — Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend — played a long set including “Who Are You,” “Pinball Wizard,” and “Love Reign O’er Me.” I was glad to see that Townshend still can windmill into his guitar-playing but Daltrey, who sounded great, did not need to take his shirt off for me. (But he still looks good for 68.) The Who set included old performance clips by the late drummer Keith Moon on video during “Bell Boy.”
During the concert, I was following along on Twitter and tweeting occasionally. (OK, maybe I have a TwitterAddiction.) Here’s a hashtag example from the Twitter feed: #thingsmoreinterestingthanchrismartin. From nonfans of Chris Martin, frontman for Coldplay, obviously. Some of the examples were watching bread mold or paint dry, Bono’s toenail, or slugs doing something unmentionable.
Actually I thought Martin did a creditable job; he wore a suit and tie, showing respect, and didn’t do his usual puppet-on-a-string-dancer routine during “Viva La Vida”. Plus he surprised us by bringing out and playing backup for Michael Stipe of the late great REM, who performed “Losing My Religion.”
McCartney was the closing act, with “Helter Skelter” and some numbers from his album Wings. Then my favorite left-handed guitarist strapped on a Bo-Diddley type square resonator guitar and brought out the three surviving members of Nirvana for an original song, “Cut Me Some Slack.” It was great to see Dave Grohl having so much fun on the drumkit. The set ended with a huge fireworks display on “Live and Let Die,” which Macca dedicated to the firefighters who marched on stage. The firefighters brought Sir Paul an NYFD baseball cap, which he clearly did not know how to wear. (Don’t they have those in England?) He then settled on something that looked like a yachting cap.
Great concert. Would love to see it again.