Artists were so anxious to help out residents of the New York region hit by Superstorm Sandy, they almost didn’t let their concert at Madison Square Garden end.
The final notes of Alicia Keys Empire State of Mind brought the star-filled show to an end at 1:19 a.m. Thursday, nearly six hours after Bruce Springsteen opened the show with Land of Hope and Dreams.
Paul McCartney’s set found him playing the role of Kurt Cobain in a Nirvana reunion, performing a new song with the band’s former members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.
Through television, live streams, the radio and theater simulcasts, an estimated 2 billion people around the world were given the chance to experience it live.
Heavy on classic rock royalty, it also featured the Rolling Stones, the Who, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton.
Music and comedy royalty struck a defiant tone throughout the event, asking for help to rebuild a New York metropolitan area most of them know well.
“When are you going to learn,” comic and New Jersey native Jon Stewart said at the sold-out show.
“You can throw anything at us – terrorists, hurricanes. You can take away our giant sodas. It doesn’t matter. Were 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, New Jersey, 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,” Bruce Springsteen said.
He mixed a verse of Jersey Girl into the song before calling New Jersey neighbor Jon Bon Jovi to join him in a rousing Born to Run. Springsteen later returned the favor 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 that composer Leonard Cohen never would have dreamed.
The rewritten chorus says: “Sandy, screw ya, well get through ya, because were New Yawkers.”
Adam 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”.