Here are 10 of the many highlights from Wednesday’s 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief, numbered in the same order that they came during the show:
Bruce Springsteen • He was the perfect choice to open the concert. His “Land of Hope and Dreams,” from the new “Wrecking Ball,” has never sounded more poignant than as the opening number for this important occasion. Even better was the triumphant “My City of Ruins,” from 2002’s “The Rising.” He makes me proud to be an American, and not in any way that has to do with political parties. The Boss definitely set the bar high for all that was to come on this night.
Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi • So great to see New Jersey’s two favorite musical sons on stage together, especially singing the anthem “Born to Run.” It didn’t even matter that the song would’ve sounded better without Bon Jovi’s vocals.
Roger Waters • The former Pink Floyd leader’s set was thrilling from start to finish. The music from “The Wall” sounded great, but so glad he also threw in some “Dark Side of the Moon” stuff -- especially “Money,” which features one of the greatest guitar parts in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. (The song’s sax solo, however, might even be better.) Plus, the collaboration between Roger Waters and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, on “Comfortably Numb,” definitely lived up to the advance hype.
Adam Sandler • Yes, Adam Sandler. Sure, his take on “Hallelujah” was enough to make some Leonard Cohen fans cringe (at least those without senses of humor). It was obnoxious, to the extreme. But equally funny, especially since the TV censors were a second or two late on bleeping out the “bad” language. I will watch his hilarious performance again. And again.
Rolling Stones • How could this not be a highlight? It’s the Stones! This concert boasted a sensational lineup before the Stones signed on. Once they did, however, the lineup became nothing short of immortal. The Stones sounded pretty good -- and we can only hope that the band plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary with some shows in our neighborhood.
Alicia Keys • It’s pretty hard to follow the Rolling Stones. Yet, Keys absolutely triumphed in that spot in the star-studded lineup. While others relied on big productions or collaborations with fellow stars, Keys simply crooned solo from the piano — and the result was spellbinding. What a talent. We were watching a future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.
The Who • I never get tired of that opening guitar part on “Pinball Wizard” — pure excitement from the fretboard! In general, the Who looked and sounded a better than the Stones. (But, still, the Stones are the Stones!)
Kanye West • Overall, Mr. West’s set was underwhelming. I guess I was expecting some type of big spectacle, which West is certainly capable of delivering. Yet, it was so good to hear some hip-hop in the mix that West still deserves mention in my highlights list.
Billy Joel • Pure charisma at the piano. Nobody is better at putting folks in a “New York State of Mind.”
Chris Martin and Michael Stipe • Any chance to witness the former R.E.M. leader perform is a good one. So, what a thrill it was to see Stipe walk out and join Martin onstage for a version of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” It was, without a doubt, the best surprise of the night. Let’s hope it inspires Stipe to do a solo tour (or, even better, reunite R.E.M.). We miss you, Michael!