Even if Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza were to pool together all their resources, they still couldn’t book the lineup assembled for 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief. Last night’s showing at Madison Square Garden, which benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy, featured members of the UK’s four most celebrated bands — ahem, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles, and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd — along with the King of New Jersey, the world’s most-famous Piano Man, a dynamite guest performance by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe alongside Chris Martin, and a believe-it-or-not reunion of Nirvana with McCartney filling the shoes of the late, great Kurt Cobain. And that’s without mentioning Eddie Vedder, Kanye West, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, or Alicia Keys who rounded out the mind-scrapping bill.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked things off with a performance of “Land of Hope and Dreams”, before segueing into “Wrecking Ball” and “My City of Ruins”. He closed his set with “Born to Run” accompanied by his “great friend and neighbor” Jon Bon Jovi.
Roger Waters followed with a pair of tracks from Pink Floyd’s The Wall in “In The Flesh” and “Another Brick in the Wall Part 1″, followed by “Money” and “Us and Them” from Dark Side of the Moon. He then teamed with Eddie Vedder for “Comfortably Numb”, which proved to be one of the evening’s more memorable moments.
Eric Clapton played “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, “Got to Get Better in a Little While”, and “Crossroads”.
The Rolling Stones followed with a much-too-short two song set comprised of “You Got Me Rocking” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.
The Who offered a seven song set (!) with “Who Are You”, “Bell Boy”, “Pinball Wizard”, “See Me, Feel Me”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Love, Reign O’er Me”, and “Tea and Theatre”. During “Bell Boy”, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend paid tribute to the band’s late drummer Keith Moon with a video montage of performance footage. And during “Baba O’Riley”, Daltrey took off his shirt.
The night’s lone hip-hop performance, Kanye West sped his way through a greatest hits medley of 12 songs: “Clique”, “Mercy”, “Power”, “Jesus Walks”, “All of the Lights”, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, the “Diamonds” remix, “Touch the Sky”, “Gold Digger”, “Good Life”, “Runaway”, and “Stronger”.
Billy Joel’s set included “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)”, “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”, “New York State of Mind”, “The River of Dreams”, “You May Be Right”, and “Only the Good Die Young”.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin played a solo acoustic rendition of “Viva La Vida”, before bringing out R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe for “Losing My Religion”, and finally closing the intimate set with “Us Against the World”.
Sir Paul McCartney closed the night with The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, Wings cuts “Let Me Roll It” and “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”, solo cut “My Valentine” alongside Diana Krall, and another Beatles favorite in “Blackbird”. Then came the ultimate guest appearance.
“So recently, some guys asked me to go and jam with them,” McCartney teased, before bringing out Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear. Casually, McCartney shrugged: ”I finally understood that I was in the middle of a Nirvana reunion.” The four then dove straight into “Cut Me Slack”, a bluesy, ’70s sludgefest jam with traces of Nirvana and McCartney’s side-project The Fireman. Macca said it best following the four minute whirlwind: “Yep”.
McCartney then continued with a spritely cover of The Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling” and a fiery, pyro-infused rendition of Wings single “Live and Let Die”. To finally close out the night, however, he joined the city’s heroic police officers and firefighters as Alicia Keys lead a sing along rendition of “New York”. Jay-Z, sadly, was not among those in attendance.