NEW YORK (AP) - Musicians were so anxious to help out residents of the New York region hit by Superstorm Sandy, they almost didn’t let their concert at Madison Square Garden end.
The final notes of Alicia Keys‘ “Empire State of Mind” brought the star-filled show to an end at 1:19 a.m. Thursday, nearly six hours after Bruce Springsteen opened it.
Paul McCartney’s set found him playing the role of Kurt Cobain in a Nirvana reunion, performing a new song with that band’s former members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.
Through television, live streams, the radio and theater simulcasts, an estimated 2 billion people around the world were given the chance to experience it live. Heavy on classic rock royalty, it also featured the Rolling Stones, the Who, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Music and comedy royalty struck a defiant tone in a benefit concert for Superstorm Sandy that started Wednesday and stretched into Thursday morning, asking for help to rebuild a New York metropolitan area most of them know well.
The sold-out Madison Square Garden show was televised, streamed online and aired on radio all over the world. Producers said up to 2 billion people could experience the concert live.
“When are you going to learn,” comic and New Jersey native Jon Stewart said. “You can throw anything at us _ terrorists, hurricanes. You can take away our giant sodas. It doesn’t matter. We’re coming back stronger every time.”
Jersey shore hero Bruce Springsteen set a roaring tone, opening the concert with “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Wrecking Ball.” He addressed the rebuilding process in introducing his song “My City of Ruins,” noting it was written about the decline of Asbury Park, N.J., before that city’s renaissance over the past decade. What made the Jersey shore special was its inclusiveness, a place where people of all incomes and backgrounds could find a place, he said.
“I pray that that characteristic remains along the Jersey shore because that’s what makes it special,” Springsteen said.
He mixed a verse of Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl” into the song before calling New Jersey neighbor Jon Bon Jovi to join him in a rousing “Born to Run.” Springsteen later returned the favor by joining Bon Jovi on “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”
Adam Sandler hearkened back to his “Saturday Night Live” days with a ribald rewrite of the oft-sung “Hallelujah” that composer Leonard Cohen never would have dreamed. The rewritten chorus says, “Sandy, screw ya, we’ll get through ya, because we’re New Yawkers.”
Sandler wore a New York Jets T-shirt and mined Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, the New York Knicks, Times Square porn and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez for laugh lines.
The music lineup was heavily weighted toward classic rock, which has the type of fans able to afford a show for which ticket prices ranged from $150 to $2,500. Even with those prices, people with tickets have been offering them for more on broker sites such as StubHub, an attempt at profiteering that producers fumed was “despicable.”
“This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden,” Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger said. “If it rains in London, you’ve got to come and help us.”