Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Music to ears of Sandy's victims

Benefit concert in New York seen worldwide

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NEW YORK -- Music and comedy royalty struck a defiant tone in a benefit concert for superstorm Sandy victims on Wednesday, asking for help to rebuild a New York metropolitan area most of them know well.

The sold-out Madison Square Garden show was televised, streamed online and aired on radio all over the world. Producers said up to two billion people could experience the concert live.

"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 Bruce Springsteen set a roaring tone, opening the concert with Land of Hope and Dreams and Wrecking Ball. He addressed the rebuilding process in introducing his song My City of Ruins, noting it was written about the decline of Asbury Park, N.J., before that city's renaissance over the past decade. What made the Jersey shore special was its inclusiveness, a place where people of all incomes and backgrounds could find a place, he said.

"I pray that that characteristic remains along the Jersey shore because that's what makes it special," Springsteen said.

He mixed a verse of Tom Waits' 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 the oft-sung Hallelujah composer Leonard Cohen never would have dreamed. The rewritten chorus says, "Sandy, screw ya, we'll get through ya, because we're New Yawkers."

Sandler wore a New York Jets T-shirt and mined Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, the New York Knicks, Times Square porn and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez for laugh lines.

The music lineup was heavily weighted toward classic rock, which has the type of fans able to afford a show for which ticket prices ranged from $150 to $2,500. Even with those prices, people with tickets have been offering them for more on broker sites such as StubHub, an attempt at profiteering that producers fumed was "despicable."

"This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden," Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger said. "If it rains in London, you've got to come and help us."

In fighting trim for a series of 50th anniversary concerts in the New York area, the Stones ripped through You've Got Me Rockin' and Jumping Jack Flash.

Jagger wasn't in New York City for Sandy, but he said in an interview before the concert his apartment was flooded with more than half a metre of water.

Eric Clapton switched from acoustic to electric guitar and sang Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out and Crossroads. New York was a backdrop for Clapton's personal tragedy, when his young son died after falling out of a window.

Roger Waters played a set of Pink Floyd's spacey rock, joined by Eddie Vedder for Comfortably Numb. Waters stuck to the music and left the fundraising to others.

"Can't chat," he said, "because we only have 30 minutes."

The sold-out 12-12-12 concert was being shown on 37 television stations in the United States and more than 200 others worldwide. It was to be streamed on 30 websites, including YouTube and Yahoo, and played on radio stations. Theatres, including 27 in the New York region and dozens more elsewhere, were showing it live.

Proceeds from the show will be distributed through the Robin Hood Foundation. More than $30 million was raised through ticket sales alone.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 13, 2012 A8

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