Maybe my issues began even before the show did.
I was so excited for the 12-12-12 concert, held to benefit Sandy victims at MSG last Wednesday, that I cancelled plans to make sure I was home to watch it. Going in, I had seen the list of people taking part. I knew Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band would open the show. I knew Paul McCartney would close it. I knew the Stones and the Who and Dave Groehl and Eddie Vedder and Billy Joel would be there. What could be bad? As it turns out, plenty.
I watched every single minute of the nearly hour show, and I did a lot of it while gritting my teeth and typing out semi-angry text messages. It could have been amazing. Instead, it was just ok. I thought it skewed too old and allowed too much time to too many people.
Let’s run down the show:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Play “Sandy,” you dope. You have a song about hope for the future that takes place on the Jersey Shore and has the same name as the storm that just destroyed that whole area. HOW DO YOU NOT PLAY IT? It’s easy. You say, “We won’t let the storm take this song away from us,” and you kick off the show in style. Overall, I thought the mood of Bruce’s set was a little too somber. I liked when he brought out Jon Bon Jovi though. I was expecting to see more of that sort of thing throughout the night.
Billy Crystal: Billy Crystal is no longer a relevant comic performer. While he is a Long Island native and was once a Big Apple institution, he longer represents New York City to the vast majority of people. With performers like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon backstage, why did the producers open the show with someone who hasn’t been in a hit movie since “City Slickers?”
Roger Waters: Roger Waters encapsulated everything that was wrong with the entire night. Pink Floyd’s music is, by definition, devoid of emotion. That’s pretty much what “The Wall” is all about. What is that doing at a benefit concert designed to play on people’s emotions. It was also very obvious that Waters was just doing his usual stage show that night, with absolutely no effort made towards acknowledging the victims of the storm. At one point, the screen behind him told the story of someone who was killed during the London train bombings. NO ONE IN NEW YORK CARES ABOUT THAT TODAY, ROG! We are here to think about Sandy. There was also no earthly reason for some random backup singer in Roger Waters’ touring band to sing lead on two songs when Eddie Vedder was waiting in the wings to come out and guest on Comfortably Numb. Either have Vedder sing lead on all three of those songs, or cut the two others. Roger Waters played for way too long. He’s not as famous as the rest of the people there that night. It should have been two songs and out.
Adam Sandler: How many times in your life have you thought, “Hey, you know what I really want to see right now? Adam Sandler doing a takeoff on a Leonard Cohen song.” That’s what I thought. Sandler is not quite as irrelevant as Billy Crystal at this point, but he’s getting close.
Bon Jovi: No complaints. They played upbeat songs, they brought up Bruce, they made everyone happy. And they were introduced by Kristen Stewart, who I don’t like, but at least she’s under 50.
Eric Clapton: He was introduced by Jon Stewart, who appeared an hour too late. That was the best part. Here is a text message I sent to a friend right before Clapton came out:
“Just play Layla, you dick!”
He did not. Here’s the thing: I know a lot of Eric Clapton songs. Why doesn’t he know any of them? Clapton needs to get up on stage and honor “Runny Eyes” McGillicutty and Bumpy Rivers and every other Delta Blues musician that no one remembers and, despite what they may say to sound informed or edgy, no one likes. Even when Clapton played “Crossroads,” a Robert Johnson song that Cream made famous, he had to slow it down and make it less good. ENOUGH!
The Rolling Stones : Introduced by Jimmy Fallon, who should have been given Sandler’s times slot to do one of his musical numbers that are both funny, creative and would have fit in with the artists performing. Why not have Fallon do his Neil Young imitation? Nope, not allowed. That’s funny in 2012. It’s more important that he have Sandler, who last made someone laugh in 1996. Anyway, the Stones. They were just alright. They only played two songs, but that’s because they’re on tour and have to save Mick’s voice. On Saturday, they played in Newark and both Lady Gaga and Springsteen performed with them. That would have been both awesome and appropriate for a huge event like 12-12-12. It didn’t happen.
Alicia Keys: She was fine, though a little boring.
The Who: The Who tried to save the concert and they came pretty close. Yes, it was weird to have Keith Moon sing, since he’s been dead for 34 years. And Yes, it was strange for Roger Daltrey to have his shirt open, because it looks like he has cesarian scars. Otherwise, they did what they should have done. They played rock music loudly. An interesting note: Roger Daltrey, who looks like he could be Keith Richards’ son at this point, is actually only a year younger than the Stones guitarist.
The Sopranos cast is now answering phones in the phone bank. Brian Williams, who is funny for a newscaster but just an annoying jackass when he’s trying to make off the cuff jokes, makes us look at all the Sopranos people. That show has been gone for a decade. NO LONGER RELEVANT.
Kanye West: Jesus Christ!!! You know the old joke, “the food at that restaurant is terrible and the portions are tiny.” That’s how I felt watching him. He was horrible and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. Turn up the mic. Most people made a big deal about the fact that he was wearing a skirt. I’m more interested in the woman’s leggings he was wearing underneath.
Seth Myers and Bobby Moynihan: Kind of funny. But not really. SNL should have sent Bill Hader as Stefon instead of Moynihan as drunk uncle.
Billy Joel: Billy Joel was great. He should have been the second act of the night. Instead, he’s buried after Kanye. Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are the official musicians of New Jersey and Long Island. They should have played three songs together, “Born to Run,” “New York State of Mind” and “You can’t go home.”
Chris Martin: I’m not a big Coldplay guy, but Chris Martin was perfect. He came on, dressed in a suit, made some funny jokes (I especially liked when he said you should take the average age of all the performers and donate that much money,) and brought out a surprise guest that was a genuine surprise. Martin and Michael Stipe doing “Losing My Religion” were great. And Martin ended his appropriate 3 song set by discussing a victim of the storm that he knew personally, in this case a garage attendant in his apartment building.
Paul McCartney: No complaints. He’s Paul McCartney for god’s sake. Even when he told the story about not realizing he was playing with the guys from Nirvana until someone pointed it out to him, it was ok. If anyone else had said it, they would have sounded old and completely out of touch. But he’s Paul McCartney. He doesn’t have to know who Nirvana is. He’s a Beatle.
And then it was over. And I wasn’t satisfied. I was with some friends this weekend, who pointed out that the concert skewed old because old people are the ones who can donate large sums of money. That’s a fair point. But, old people aren’t the only ones who can donate money. Is 100 bucks from one old person better than 25 from 4 younger ones?
I’m being very critical of the way the show was put together. So, it’s only fair that I present an alternative that I think would have worked better:
-Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, opening with Sandy, then playing a more upbeat set.
-Jon Stewart serves as MC for the night.He explains the cause, talks about how much he loves both NYC and the Jersey Shore.
-Billy Joel plays the exact set he played, minus the last song
-Bon Jovi plays the exact set they played, minus the last song. Then Bruce and Billy Joel come on stage and all three play three songs together
-Jimmy Fallon does his Neil Young imitation, then introduces the Stones.
-They play their two songs, maybe with Lady Gaga.
-Stephen Colbert introduces Clapton, who plays two songs. ONE OF THEM IS LAYLA, YOU DICK.
-Adam Sandler gets to introduce The Who, who play their set but welcome Eddie Vedder up to sing “Reign O’er Me” with them. Since the Eddie Vedder version of that song was in an Adam Sandler Movie, it makes sense.
-Roger Waters gets two songs, Vedder sings Comfortably Numb with him.
-Kanye West, who plays two or three songs and ENUNCIATES!
-Why didn’t Dave Groehl get his own set? In my show he does.
-Seth Myers and Bill Hader do Stefon then introduce Chris Martin, who plays his excellent set.
-Bill Crystal closes the night by introducing Paul McCartney, who plays the exact set he played, including the Nirvana guys.
-Then everyone comes on stage to sing Hey Jude and Empire State of Mind together.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
This week’s “Sign of the Apocolypse” is about a guy who went on Craigslist and offered to pay someone $10 to take his tickets to a Wizards game. Well, on Friday night, I went to Wizards-Lakers at the Verizon center with SCP readers Beltway Buddy, Bhersk and Mike-no SCP nickname. We left at halftime after realizing that none of us had bothered watching a single play.
The Big Easy by S.L. Price
This was an incredibly long profile of Eli Manning. It seems weird that after 9 years and two Superbowls, SI is just now getting around to writing a profile of the Giants QB.
The Polarization of Jeremy Lin by Albert Chen
I won’t even point out that SI made the guy named Chen write about Jeremy Lin. Lin’s almost the complete opposite of Eli Manning, in that he was profiled by SI about five times within the first month after he broke out with the Knicks last year. So, what else is there to add? Apparently, not much. Also, Raymond Felton is much better than Jeremy Lin. New York has all but forgotten about Linsanity at this point.
The Year of the Women by SI Staff
There were a lot of women in sports this year! And they showed lots of character traits! OK!
Stand Up and Speak Out by Gary Smith
I did not read this article. I was out of town this weekend and simply ran out of time. But, I can tell you, I’m not nearly as enamored with RA Dickey as most people. And it’s because I read his autobiography. John, from 200 Miles From The Citi, expressed similar sentiments yesterday. In his book, Dickey told the story of when he dove into the Missouri River and nearly died. He did this while fully aware of the danger and with a wife and children at home. And he forced his minor league teammates to risk their own lives to save him. It was presented as the turning point in Dickey’s life, when he finally fully committed to living his life according to God. It came off as the most selfish act of an intelligent but immature person who thinks about no one but himself. I’m kind of glad the Mets traded him. Dickey was fun to watch, but his personality was starting to get on my nerves.
Point After by Jeff Olsen
I didn’t read this either. Was it good?