bill bodkin looks at the historic concert…
It’s surreal watching history unfold in front of your eyes. The 12.12.12 Concert was a once in a lifetime event, bringing together some of the biggest names in music history in order to bring in money for those effected by Hurricane Sandy.
It seemed like everyone was watching the concert last night as Facebook status updates were rapidly updated with everyone’s pop culture two cents (which is a lot easier to digest than everyone’s political opinions during the 2012 election) and Twitter feeds were all “atwitter” with thoughts and reactions to everything from performances to performers’ questionable fashion tastes.
In regards to the actual concert itself — it was your classic benefit show/festival-style event. There were some iconic moments, some solid performances, surprise appearances and some real stinkers. Yet in the end, a concert of this magnitude is rare to see — Live Aid, The Concert for Bangladesh, The Concert for New York, Farm Aid…not exactly annual events.
The surreal feeling that surrounded this concert had nothing to do with the line-up or the performances, it had to do with the fact that we’re the people these legends and superstars were playing for. Yes, Hurricane Sandy, for the many of us at Pop-Break, myself in particular, were affected greatly by this super-storm. For nearly a decade the Jersey Shore is where I worked full-time…that was until Sandy rendered my job non-existenet. The now famous Sandy symbol of the roller coaster in the Atlantic? I’ve seen that in operation every summer as I conducted my business as a writer and salesman tramping up and down the Seaside boards. The bridge destroyed in Mantoloking? I’ve driven over that innumerable times. When towns like Union Beach, Sayreville, Ortley Beach and Toms River are being talked about by celebrities, my heart aches as these are towns I’ve spent a lot of time in — working, eating, drinking, enjoying life. It’s just surreal to see Paul McCartney wearing a Seaside Heights PD hat — especially since I’ve asked some of those cops not to ticket me in the past while dropping magazines off to boardwalk bars. It’s surreal seeing Roger Waters singing to raise money for the shore — a region that I got married in, that I lived in, that I proposed to my wife in.
Yes, this concert was personal for me. It at time re-opened wounds, at times it was maddeningly terrible and yet at times lifted my spirit, it enveloped me in a sense that, despite the loss I’ve experienced, my friends have experienced and my state has experienced, we were all going to be OK. And honestly, besides raising money, this exactly what this concert was all about.
Now onto some quick thoughts on the show…
The Performance of Performances: When it was announced that Paul McCartney would be performing with the surviving members of Nirvana, a collective groan could be heard from the masses. How would Sir Paul mesh with Grohl, Smear and Novoselic? However, what happened when this foursome got together was spine-tingling magic. McCartney, who’s recent catalog hasn’t exactly blown us away, slayed. He showed an aggressive, energetic and intense side that was completely out of left field. As a band “Mac-Vana” was tremendous…the Nirvana trio was tighter than ever — something we would expect Dave Grohl, but maybe not from Pat Smear and Krist Novoselic. One just has to pray to the music gods that this foursome decide to record a full-length record of original music…not as Nirvana per say, but as a band nonetheless. This performance is one we’re going to talk about for years, it’s the kind of ‘moment’ that shows like this produce — once in a lifetime and unforgettable.
The Worst of the Worst: It’s a no-brainer…Kanye West nearly killed this entire concert. First off, when you’ve got an audience of very affluent cats, mostly in their late 40s and up, Kanye West is not going to get a standing ovation, if he’s lucky, a polite golf clap. His set was an absolute disaster. First off, a pleather kilt and leggings? Wow. And the performance itself was really, really awkward. It was like Kanye was performing in anger because he wasn’t getting a reaction. It was near tantrum-level in intensity. It was just an embarrassment — and once again Kanye proves that it’s all about him or at least that’s how it came off. Despite his starpower, Kanye really needs to be left off charitable events, he ruined the Katrina Benefit and if not for McCartney, he would’ve ruined 12.12.12.
The Jersey Moment: While they have performed onstage together in untelevised shows, seeing Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi perform together was monumental. Was it the strongest performance from each? No. But if you’re from Jersey, you couldn’t deny the power of these two Jersey boys on stage. It’s one of the awesome moments that’s more about the moment, more about what it means to you personally than how good the actual performance was. These two artists wear New Jersey proudly on their sleeves and they are our artistic symbols of hope. Every song is anthem of Jersey glory, of a brighter future, of taking care of our own and living on a prayer. We can wax poetic and flip critics the bird about our two heroes.
And Everyone Else: Roger Waters set was solid, sometimes a bit ‘meh’ and sleepy. However, Eddie Vedder’s vocals on ‘Comfortably Numb’ made the set memorable and it’s a shame we didn’t see more of him. Alicia Keys, was amazing as always. Resplendent in beauty and vocal majesty, she was excellent. Billy Joel was on fire and really, really saved the show post-Kanye. The Who were The Who, big, loud, hit-and-miss, but still enjoyable. Roger Daltry should keep his shirt on though…we don’t need to see your bypass scar. Chris Martin of Coldplay was actually fantastic and his duet with REM’s Michael Stipe was a terrific last second surprise. McCartney, sans Nirvana, was tremendous, and opening with ‘Helter Skelter’ was completely out of left field (but totally badass). And despite their age, The Rolling Stones proved that they still have a lot left in the tank.