NEW YORK – Music and comedy royalty struck a defiant tone in a benefit concert for Superstorm Sandy victims Wednesday, asking for help to rebuild a New York metro 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 2 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 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 neighbor Jon Bon Jovi to join him in a rousing Born to Run.
Adam Sandler hearkened back to his Saturday Night Live days with a ribald rewrite of the oft-sung Hallelujah that composer Leonard Cohen never would have dreamed. The rewritten chorus says, Sandy, screw ya, we’ll get through ya, because we’re New Yawkers.
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.
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.
Proceeds from the show will be distributed through the Robin Hood Foundation. More than $30 million was raised through ticket sales alone.
The powerful storm left parts of New York City underwater and left millions of people in several states without heat or electricity for weeks. It’s blamed for at least 125 deaths, including 104 in New York and New Jersey, and it destroyed or damaged 305,000 housing units in New York alone.
EStreet Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt said that musicians are often quick to help when they can.
Yes, it’s more personal, because literally the Jersey shore is where we grew up, he said. But we’d be here anyway.