1. The earnings produced by the 121212 display is being directed into the Robin the boy wonder Bonnet Base, which will use it to help individuals in the tri-state area impacted by Storm Exotic. Robin the boy wonder Hood’s got a healthy standing and it’s not the Red Mix, so that is appealing. Harvey Weinstein assisted arrange the display, which indicates that things might shift from factor A to factor B. If any of the cash does arrive at Exotic impacted individuals, it was the biggest display ever.
2. Except that the throwing thing was approximately six hours long, so it was not.
3. Mature people have more cash, and the set was targeted strongly toward them. Old English men established the biggest part of functions, which Mick Jagger described during the surprisingly short Rocks set. The only circumstances of either youngsters and/or not being white-colored were Frank Martin, Kanye Western, and Alicia Important factors (the only lady onstage who was not a back-up musician or non-speaking group member). These functions seemed to mix up the audience a little bit, though they were start to being entertained. (People be familiar with “Gold Digger” at marriages, so that went over fairly well.)
4. The combination of the Nirvana members David Grohl, Pat Smear, and Krist Novoselic with Sir Paul McCartney was confined to the performance of one new original song called “Cut Me Some Slack.” This will be part of the soundtrack for “Sound City,” a documentary directed by Grohl about a Los Angeles recording complex. It was a loud, basic number that recalled both Nirvana and McCartney’s Fireman project, and it was neither too ambitious nor embarrassing. For every Nirvana fan (my hand is raised), there was no need to process the dissonance of a Van Hagar moment, or the sight of one musician mangling another’s work. Also, the bass player Krist Novoselic is missed. He manages to cut through the sound of any band he’s in, no matter how loud that band is, while still playing notes in the low register. I attribute this, unscientifically, to his unusual pick hold (between the thumb and third finger) and his superlong arms.
5. The Who played for eight songs, the Stones for just two. Inexplicable.
6. There are no jokes to be made about the appearance the of acts, most hovering between sixty and seventy, because anyone making jokes at their expense will be swallowed by the acid of karmic hell when they look like Bukowski at the age of fifty. Leave Roger Daltrey alone. Also, Mick Jagger scares me, because there’s no medical intervention that leaves you both trim and energetic at the age of (almost) seventy. Mostly, you can have things injected into you and you can work out, leading to the growing subgroup of vaguely footbally older dudes like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Springsteen.
7. Bruce opened the show, and though his brand of athletic sincerity isn’t my thing, he had the right tone and material for the show. He also has the energy, and he looks good in a vest. What suits older Bruce is a brand of light gravitas, like he learned that his darkest songs all came true but he survived, so maybe it isn’t all so grim (thought it probably is for other people). “Wrecking Ball,” one of his best, late-period three-chord songs, was the evening’s best moment of lyrics matching the occasion. (“Yeah, we know that come tomorrow, none of this will be here, so hold tight on your anger, you hold tight on your anger, hold tight to your anger, don’t fall to your fears.”) And, though he’s New Jersey’s most famous son, he sounded humbled between songs and didn’t milk the connection. (Each act spoke—if they spoke—about a specific local area. Bruce chose to talk about Asbury Park and its diversity, a nice vaccine for an almost entirely white show.)
8. Governors Christie and Cuomo got several shout-outs, and stood up twice.
9. The one consistently unpleasant aspect of the show was the stink of twentieth-century television humor. Billy Crystal hosted, though this didn’t mean he was on-screen that much. The idea of comedy was itself a bit odd for a Sandy benefit, which was trying to balance terrible jokes about displaced people being moved into prisons (and I was enjoying you, Jason Sudeikis!) and heart-flattening montages of people who’d lost their homes. Sandy wasn’t funny. And, again, this thing was six hours long. Get out your red pen, Harvey, and simply can the jokes. Half an hour saved.
10. Susan Sarandon grew up in both Jackson Heights, Queens, and Edison, New Jersey. The list of reasons to love Susan Sarandon will never, ever shrink.
11. Roger Waters was apparently told that the concert was about Roger Waters. The set list of Pink Floyd songs (“In The Flesh,” “Another Brick In The Wall”) had no relevance to the topic, and he spent almost two full minutes raising his arms triumphantly to the crowd. At one point, as Eddie Vedder sang “Comfortably Numb,” Waters went to the front of the stage, sang along, mimed “dreams” by making the universal hand signal for “mind blown” and then threw his arms up again. You sounded good, Roger, but honestly. (He did have some excellent young dancers. The Internet will argue about whether they were breaking, or twerking, or juking. They were welcome, and we could have used them in hours four and five.)
12. Adam Sandler needs to go home. We don’t say “squeegee guys and tunnel whores,” Adam, because it’s not 1992. Maybe it is in L.A. The squeegee guys got hit pretty hard by Sandy, for starters. And I doubt anyone cares that you ruined “Hallelujah” because Leonard Cohen loves a good mistake and nobody can un-break that song. Just leave.
13. Brian Williams is always funnier than whoever asked him to show up and do his perfect deadpan. His is the Big L of comedy.
14. Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively being called upon to stand still and look attractive while reading from teleprompters said slightly too much about the programmers’ tastes. Men: eternal. Women: please be under forty, and preferably under thirty.
15. Bon Jovi are the second-best-known sons of Jersey and they sounded fine, though Jon seemed slightly worn out. It’s hard to work the triumphant Jersey-son turf with Bruce in the room, so they did a duet and it was friendly. Still. Also, Jenni (JWoww) Farley of “Jersey Shore” apparently doesn’t know that people yell “Bruuuuuuce” at Bruce Springsteen shows.
16. If you were still unsure about the demographic for the show, Jon Stewart joked that listening to Roger Waters made everyone think of “where you hid your pot in ninth grade.”
17. Alicia Keys has a new bob that makes her look a little like MTV’s Daria. “Brand New Me” and “No One” sounded fine, though her immaculate pitch was a few cents off, which is normal for most, but not Keys. Maybe the constant brand-checking with Samsung (a sponsor) is why she sang “put your cell phones in the air, help me celebrate love, help me celebrate life” several times. Still didn’t make any sense.
18. The Who played seven songs. Daltrey removed his shirt, and looked fit but did struggle with lots of notes. Who songs are fairly atheltic, unlike those easygoing vehicles that the Stones built. So they’re set up to look older. Bit unfair, but they wrote the songs. They sounded strong, and were probably good for five songs. There was an odd Hologram Keith moment where the band played “Bellboy” and tried to sync with footage of the late Keith Moon singing his parts. Anyone in the crowd not familiar with The Who probably took a bathroom break.
19. Whoever was in charge of the seven-second delay seemed to miss every single curse, for at least several hours. He or she certainly missed Townsend yelling “Have a fucking beer!” as he left the stage.
20. Brian Williams spoke to James Gandolfini, who refused to man any of the phones in the phone bank and seemed only slightly more willing to talk to Williams.
21. Kanye West’s performance seemed to bring back the current century, if only for a moment. People on Twitter were excited about his leather skirt, or kilt, or whatever it was. Odd, as he wore it on the “Watch the Throne” tour, but hey, there’s a lot on the Internet to remember. His twelve-song medleyish set involved lots of running around, and a commitment to work a crowd that seemed very much agnostic about him. (The extra sweat wasn’t just about effort last night; television requires extra lighting, and it burns.) He was one of the best performers, though the sound mix was awfully odd and distant, as if the blend of direct and mic’d signals was getting scrambled somewhere. By the end of the set, the audience was sounding convinced. West, allegedly an egomaniac, worked his ass off and kept censoring himself pre-emptively. This did not stop the seven-second delay person from pressing the mute button many times.
22. And who won the evening? The Yanks—along with Bruce and Kanye, Billy Joel sounded fantastic. We know the rap sheet. Joel hasn’t lived clean, and yet there he was, his voice appearing to have aged only about a week since 1987, and his piano playing fluid and strong. The mood relaxed, as if someone who really knew how to play a stadium was in charge, and the crowd really wanted to hear him. “Movin’ Out” and “New York State of Mind”? Perfect. But then The Other Billy popped up, the one who doesn’t seem to know what choices to make, and we got “River of Dreams” and “You May Be Right.” Joel the surprisingly good piano-bar employee gave way to Joel the emperor of Dadrock. Oh, well. He still sounded great.
23. Chris Martin was bright enough to know that we didn’t want to stay up any longer and where the hell were Paul and the boys and so he kept it to three songs: “Viva La Vida”; “Losing My Religion,” with Michael Stipe sounding a bit rough but welcome alongside Martin; and then some Coldplay song that would have got him bottled, but he shuffled off, and, hey, points for knowing when to keep it short.
24. We got an appearance by the Breezy Point volunteer fire department, which felt apt and returned some gravity, and then Sir Paul came out. The night’s sharpest point came in under cover of his set: though he did “Helter Skelter,” the Beatles are really fading from cultural memory. Paul’s been around as a solo artist (and Wings member) much longer than the Beatles, and he played it that way. A solo song, some Wings songs, and then out came Nirvana for the rumbly new song. Sir Paul kept mentioning Sandy and the need to donate, feeling comfortable and not at all lordly. And, before he played “Blackbird,” he mentioned that he had written it at the end of the sixties for the people in the South working for civil rights, which was an unexpected goose-bumps moment. And then, of course, he actually played “Blackbird,” something perfect enough to stop all of the noise around it. Was that the Beatles rearing up as a force, or just a reminder of why he’s Sir Paul at the end of the day?
25. Alicia Keys closed with “Empire State of Mind (Part II),” as Paul and various New York luminaries swayed awkwardly on stage. No great conclusion, as six hours and this many acts can’t possibly cohere into a single thought. But I did wake up wanting to hear “The Stranger,” top to bottom.