Music, comedy strike defiant tone at Sandy concert

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NEW YORK (AP) - Musicians were so intent upon helping victims of Superstorm Sandy that they didn’t seem to want their benefit concert in New York to end.

The final notes of Alicia Keys‘ “Empire State of Mind” closed the star-studded show at 1:19 a.m. Thursday, nearly six hours after Bruce Springsteen set a roaring tone with “Land of Hope and Dreams.”

In between, the Madison Square Garden stage hosted a mini-Nirvana reunion with Paul McCartney playing the part of Kurt Cobain, a duet between Coldplay’s Chris Martin and former R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe, Kanye West wearing a leather skirt and enough British music royalty to fill an old rocker’s home.

The sold-out show was televised live, streamed online, played on the radio and shown in theaters all over the world. Producers said up to 2 billion people were able to experience it live. The audience’s stamina may have depended on their time zone.

“I know you really wanted One Direction,” Martin, speaking onstage at 12:15 a.m., said of the popular British boy band. “But it’s way past their bedtime. That’s why you get one-quarter of Coldplay.” Stipe joined him for R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.”

The participants, many natives of the area and others who know it well, struck a defiant tone in asking for help to rebuild sections of the New York metropolitan area devastated by the late-October storm.

“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 Springsteen 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.”

In fighting trim for a series of 50th anniversary concerts in the New York area, the Stones ripped through “You’ve Got Me Rockin” and “Jumping Jack Flash” before beating a quick retreat _ perhaps not to upstage their own upcoming Pay-Per-View show. Actor Steve Buscemi later made light of that, saying producers made room for him by cutting the Stones short. “I said, `if they play more than two songs, I’m out of here.’”

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