Billions of people across the world were witness to one of the most epic nights in music history, with some of the most prestigious acts in rock and roll coming together in New York City to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Dubbed the 121212 Concert, the marathon 6 hour gig was broadcast live from Madison Square Garden around the world to be broadcast on hundreds of television networks and streamed live on the internet.
Kicking off the proceedings was The Boss himself Bruce Springsteen, opening with Land of Hope and Dreams. Several songs in his was joined by Jon Bon Jovi for Born to Run, and in return Springsteen was invited on stage during Bon Jovi’s set to help sing Who Says You Can’t Go Home.
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters schooled New York on prog rock (with a little help from Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder), while veterans The Who schooled New York on good old fashioned straight forwards rock ‘n’ roll with Pete Townsend screaming out “’ave a fuckin’ beer!” to the global audience as he departed the stage.
As well as big brash loud bands, there were also quieter, intimate moments. Alicia Keys serenaded the audience one on one, just her and the piano, and later Chris Martin from Coldplay had everyone singing along to a gentle acoustic version of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida before bringing front man Michael Stripe to duet on the classic REM song Losing My Religion.
Due to time limitations Slowhand himself Eric Clapton was only able to barrel through a meagre three songs. Opening with a sit-down acoustic performance of the blues standard Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, he soon moved to electric guitar reminded everyone why many considered him to be ‘God’!
Native New Yorker Billy Joel took to the stage playing a selection of songs that were a tip of the hat to a city he obviously loves: Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway) and New York State of Mind were absolute crowd pleasers and had the audience close to tears.
Sadly not every act at the concert put on as great a show: the notoriously moody Rolling Stones took to the stage and played a curt and comparatively lacklustre two song set consisting of You Get Me Rocking and Jumping Jack Flash. Then later in the night Kanye West sucked the life out of the audience by shouting his way through a mash up of songs that had many people heading towards the bar or bathroom. Luckily the bad acts were a massive minority.
There were also moments of humour: hosts John Stewart, Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon all provided laughs, but it was Adam Sandler and Paul Shaffer’s parody of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that had the audience in stitches (renaming the song Sandy Screw Ya!)
The final billed act was Paul McCartney, who instead of playing a set full of the predictable singalongs such as Yesterday, Let It Be and Hey Jude, raised the roof with some of music’s finest rock songs including The Beatles’ Helter Skelter and Wings’ Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five. The sweet melodious Macca did get some face time though, wheeling out quiet acoustic songs Blackbird and the relatively recent My Valentine featuring a cameo from the wife of Elvis Costello, Diana Krall.
One of the biggest surprises of the night was Paul McCartney being joined on stage by the surviving members of American grunge band Nirvana to play a new song Cut Me Some Slack. Having not played together in over 18 years, this concert served as a kind of reunion for Dave Grohl, Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic, with Macca taking the place of Kurt Cobain who died in 1994.
Paul McCartney then rounded off the night with several rockers before graciously stepping aside and allowing Alicia Keys to borrow his grand piano AND band and close the historic concert with a poignant rendition of her 2009 co-composition Empire State of Mind.
But despite the abundance of amazing music, the true reason why the concert was happening was never far from anyone’s mind. More than $30million was raised on the night, and every penny of it will help victims of the Hurricane which hit in late September 2012. You can still donate now via the 121212 concert website.
An album of the concert is set to be released on the 18th December featuring 24 songs from the concert, and can be pre-ordered via iTunes. A DVD and Blu Ray are also expected for release shortly. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the Robin Hood Foundation.
121212 Concert setlist
Bruce Springsteen – Land of Hope and Dreams
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Bruce Springsteen – My City of Ruins
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (with Jon Bon Jovi)
Roger Waters – In The Flesh
Roger Waters – The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Roger Waters – Another Brick In The Wall pt. 2
Roger Waters – The Ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes
Roger Waters – Money
Roger Waters – Us and Them
Roger Waters – Comfortably Numb (with Eddie Vedder)
Bon Jovi – It’s My Life
Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive
Bon Jovi – Who Says You Can’t Go Home (with Bruce Springsteen)
Bon Jovi – Living on a Prayer
Eric Clapton – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Eric Clapton – Got To Get Better in a Little While
Eric Clapton – Crossroads
Rolling Stones – You Get Me Rocking
Rolling Stones – Jumping Jack Flash
Alicia Keys – Brand New Me
Alicia Keys – No One
The Who – Who Are You
The Who – Bell Boy
The Who – Pinball Wizard
The Who – See Me Feel Me / Listening to You
The Who – Baba O’Riley
The Who – Love Reign O’er Me
The Who – Tea and Theatre
Kanye West – Clique / Mercy / Power
Kanye West – Gold Digger
Kanye West – Good Life
Kanye West – Runaway
Kanye West – Stronger
Billy Joel – Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)
Billy Joel – Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
Billy Joel – Merry Little Christmas / New York State of Mind
Billy Joel – River of Dreams
Billy Joel – You May Be Right
Billy Joel – Only the Good Die Young
Chris Martin – Viva La Vida
Chris Martin – Losing My Religion (with Michael Stripe)
Chris Martin – Us Against the World
Paul McCartney – Helter Skelter
Paul McCartney – Let Me Roll It
Paul McCartney – Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
Paul McCartney – My Valentine (with Diana Krall)
Paul McCartney – Blackbird
Paul McCartney – Cut Me Some Slack (with Dave Grohl)
Paul McCartney – I’ve Got a Feeling
Paul McCartney – Live and Let Die
Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind