The Concert For Sandy: British Music All-Stars

Nirvana with their new singer Paul McCartney. Well, not really.

The 12-12-12: Concert For Sandy Relief took place last night (December 12) at Madison Square Garden in New York with Sir Paul McCartney and a whole bunch of other British rock legends, from The Rolling Stones to The Who to Eric Clapton to Chris Martin from Coldplay to Roger Waters.

But the highlight of the concert was a long-publicised “reunion” of Nirvana with none other than Paul McCartney filling in for Kurt Cobain, whose schedule was unfortunately bogged down in being the dinner for a bunch of worms, and has been since 1994. However, bassist Krist Novoselic, drummer Dave Grohl, and even unofficial rhythm guitarist Pat Smear. Many fans were disappointed when it turned out that Sir Paul would not, in fact, perform “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” nor would Nirvana’s venerable rhythm section perform “Helter Skelter,” but would, instead, perform a new song entitled “Cut Me Some Slack,” which is also to be released in a studio recording for Dave Grohl’s new documentary Sound City.

Of the reunion, Grohl said:  ” I think people were expecting us to do a Beatles song or a Nirvana song, but when I first called Paul to see if he would come jam with us none of us wanted to do a Beatles song or a Nirvana song, we wanted to do a new song so we wrote and recorded a new song in a day and it’s heavy as fuck.”

But, of course, despite all the print I’m devoting to this one song, Sir Paul’s entire set is as good as one could have expected from the many benefit concerts he’s done after all these years. But, of course, despite being a show for the benefit of New York, this has probably had the most British rock legends of any benefit concert not curated by Bob Geldof.

Roger Waters’s performance is perhaps the first in years where he performed songs that weren’t from “The Wall,” as he performed, in addition to “In the Flesh”, “The Happiest Days of Our Lives/Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2”, they also performed “Money”, “Us and Them,” and a song entitled “The Ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes,” a song commemorating the memory of a man falsely accused of being behind the 7/7 bombings. But, finally, he won the audience over with a performance of “Comfortably Numb” with Eddie Vedder performing David Gilmour’s vocal parts.

Eric Clapton’s performance was perhaps paltry, as he only performed 3 songs: “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Got to Get Better in a Little While” and “Crossroads.”

The Rolling Stones also performed two songs: 1994’s “You Got Me Rocking”, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Unfortunately, these performances aren’t as good as they were in their O2 concerts, but I think it may be because they used the Sandy concert as a warm-up for their gigs at Prudential Center in Newark a few days later.

The Who’s  setlist was the standard complement of hits, with “Who are You,” “Pinball Wizard”, “See Me Feel Me”, “Baba O’Reilly”, and “Love Reign O’er Me.” However, there were two surprises, one where they performed Bell Boy, with Keith Moon on vocals, resurrected from the Grave by audio from the studio recording of the song, and video performance of the song from 1974. And, given what happened in Sunrise on 1 November 2012, I feel obligated to note that nothing went seriously wrong like in that concert. Apart from Sir Paul’s set, this may have been the strongest set of the night.

Finally, Chris Martin’s performed “Viva La Vida”, “Losing My Religion” (with Michael Stipe), and “Us Against the World,” accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, except for “Losing My Religion” where he was accompanied by Michael Stipe on duet vocals, and “Us Against the World,” where he put the guitar down and played a piano. But, still, the performance of “Viva La Vida” recalls Pete Townshend’s famous solo acoustic version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from the Secret Policeman’s Ball.

Also, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Kanye West and Billy Joel had sets of their own, and Adam Sandler performed a rewrite of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” entitled “Sandy, Screw Ya”, and Alicia Keys performed “Empire State of Mind.” But, of course, those are American artists who don’t fit into the purview of this site, so I’ll just leave you to find their performances yourselves.

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