Monday, January 28, 2013


This is the inevitable, and quickly-released 2 CD set from the December benefit for the New York-New Jersey area victims of Superstorm Sandy.  I guess these big all-star shows are now so commonplace, they've lost a bit of the Live Aid excitement that spawned them, but I still know lots of people who stayed glued to the set or net that night.  And there were certainly highlights for everybody.  People from casual fans to confirmed collectors singled out moments, whether it was a surprise appearance by Michael Stipe, or a possible last glimpse of The Rolling Stones.

I had my own favourites that night, and some I didn't enjoy.  Oddly, this is one of those instances where almost the reverse is true once I listened to this release, instead of watched it.  Springsteen was bugging me in his opening set, his broad theatrics for the audience didn't translate well for me at home.  But listening to Land Of Hope and Dreams and Wrecking Ball on the disc, well, they come across with power.   Roger Waters seemed smug in his section, and I'm not a big Floyd fan.  However, you can't deny the awesome auditorium experience he always gives, and listening to Comfortably Numb with guest Eddie Vedder, instead of viewing it, that's when I got the goose bumps.  The Stones sound pretty good on You Got Me Rockin' and Jumpin' Jack Flash, and The Who, stripped of the visuals of Townshend acting it up, knock Baba O'Riley out of the park.  I remember being thrilled with Billy Joel's set, because he simply got up there and played the hits with energy and good will, no theatrics, but that's what it sounds like on disc too, just straight-forward versions of the hits.  My point in the end is, it's a better concert than it looked.

There are always obvious clinkers in these things.  Of course Bon Jovi have an important role to play in any Jersey event, but they remain the most insipid rock band ever.  I hate them more than any other.  There, I've said it.  Alicia Keys is annoying on her two numbers, constantly telling the audience to hold up their cell phones, even singing the line in her song.  And I can usually find a chuckle or two in Adam Sandler's stuff, but really there's no need to include his rewrite of Hallelujah ("Sandy, screw ya"), it's tiresome the second time you hear it.

Of the much ballyhooed McCartney-Nirvana collaboration, it wasn't much to watch, and isn't even included here.  There's just one Big Mac number, his opening blast of Helter Skelter, which is too bad, because aside from the MacVana thing, it was a good set, with his standard charity singalong Let It Be thankfully absent, in favour of Wings rockers and more.  We do get the Stipe-Chris Martin acoustic Losing My Religion,  a couple of okay Eric Clapton numbers, and Martin's solo Viva La Vida, all worthy.  All together, there's only a few numbers to skip over, not bad for a double-disc set with a cheap price, proceeds heading to charity.

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