- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

NEW YORK — The rock band Stone Temple Pilots was nearing the end of "Revolution" at Tuesday night's John Lennon tribute concert when the Radio City Music Hall crowd erupted in cheers.

It had nothing to do with the performance. The audience was reacting instead to pictures of New York City firefighters at the World Trade Center, beamed onto a video screen behind the musicians.

The terrorist attack three weeks earlier had transformed both the mood and the purpose of the event, originally planned as a benefit for nonviolent causes and hurriedly changed to help the families of the thousands of trade-center victims.

Starting with Yolanda Adams' triumphant gospel version of "Imagine," it showed how the mood in New York City is shifting from fear and sadness to defiance and resiliency.

"A despicable act of blind hatred has failed completely to tear us apart," said actor Kevin Spacey, who hosted the show. "It has united us in our shared pain and in our resolve."

Mr. Lennon, Mr. Spacey said, "was a Liverpudlian by birth. He was a New Yorker by choice."

Mr. Spacey yes, the actor also was arguably the musical highlight of the two-hour show, televised live on the WB and TNT television networks. He took the microphone for "Mind Games," pulling it off with such breathtaking confidence that the audience leapt to its feet in appreciation.

Mr. Lennon's music comfort food for a wounded city and the performers' spirit saved what could have been a lackluster night.

The concert's lineup was oddly underwhelming. None of Mr. Lennon's ex-Beatle mates showed. Former Beatles sideman Billy Preston and Lou Reed were the only representatives of Mr. Lennon's musical generation. With the exception of Mr. Reed and Dave Matthews, the lineup also was seriously lacking in rock credibility.

Music director Dave Stewart had assembled a 17-piece band that overwhelmed Marc Anthony, Shelby Lynne and Nelly Furtado in fact, everyone who chose to perform with it except Mr. Spacey.

The performances with most or all of the band offstage were the most affecting. Mr. Lennon's son Sean sang "Across the Universe" and "This Boy" with Rufus Wainwright. Dedicating it to his mother, Yoko Ono, Sean also sang "Julia," the song his father wrote 33 years ago for his mother.

New British soul artist Craig David, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, sang "Come Together."

Cyndi Lauper, performing live from the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park, did "Strawberry Fields Forever," her eyes glistening.

Mr. Reed performed a rocking version of "Jealous Guy."

By the ending medley of "Give Peace a Chance" and "Power to the People," the disparate group actors Kevin Bacon, James Gandolfini and Ben Stiller with the musicians formed a conga line up the aisle of Radio City.

Miss Ono paid tribute to fire and rescue workers, saying they "restored my faith in the human race."

Added Mr. Spacey: "We have all been witnesses to the incredible power of New York's people."

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