British rockers blow in for New York Superstorm Sandy benefit gig

The Rolling Stones, The Who, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Paul McCartney add their voices to charity concert for storm victims

The world's biggest musical names got together in New York last night to perform in aid of the victims of Superstorm Sand.

"This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden," said Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, the Evening Standard reports. "If it rains in London, you've got to come and help us."

The music line-up in Madison Square Garden 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. "I know you really wanted One Direction," said Chris Martin. "But it's way past their bedtime. That's why you get one-quarter of Coldplay..."

Paul McCartney was there, too. He has strong New York ties, including a Manhattan office, Hamptons summer home and a third wife, Nancy Shevell, who spent a decade on the board of the agency that oversees New York's public transport system. Backed by Diana Krall, McCartney performed My Valentine, a song he had written for Shevell.

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 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.

Jersey shore hero Bruce Springsteen addressed the rebuilding process in introducing his song My City of Ruins, noting it was written about the decline of Asbury Park, New Jersey, before that city's recent renaissance. What made the Jersey shore special was its inclusiveness, a place where people of all incomes and backgrounds could find a place, he said.

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."' Jagger wasn't in New York City for Sandy, but he said in an interview before the concert that his apartment was flooded with two feet of water.

The Who weaved Sandy into their set, showing pictures of storm damage on screens during Pinball Wizard. Pete Townshend made a quick revision to the lyrics of Baba O'Riley, changing "teenage wasteland" to "Sandy wasteland." The Who didn't follow the Stones' lead, and played lengthy sets that slightly disrupted the show's momentum.

Eric Clapton switched from acoustic to electric guitar and sang Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out and Crossroads. New York was a backdrop for Clapton's personal tragedy, when his young son died after falling out of a window.

Roger Waters played a set of Pink Floyd's spacey rock, joined by Eddie Vedder for Comfortably Numb. Waters stuck to the music and left the fundraising to others. "Can't chat," he said, "because we only have 30 minutes."

The sold-out 12-12-12 concert was being shown on 37 television stations in the US and more than 200 others worldwide. It was to be streamed on 30 websites, including YouTube and Yahoo. The theatres showing it included 27 in the New York region alone. Proceeds will be distributed through the Robin Hood Foundation, and more than $30 million was raised through ticket sales alone.

Evening Standard

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