Did you watch the concert last night? Come on, you know the one I’m talking about. The Hurricane Sandy concert that was on every channel, including the Cooking Channel, so you couldn’t miss it. You did miss it? I can’t believe it. You say you love music, and the three greatest living rock acts — The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and The Who — perform a big concert on TV and you miss it? Well, don’t worry — I taped it for Mom because I knew she was going to fall asleep right in the middle of it, and she did. I’ll just mail you the tape after she’s done with it. Yes, a real VHS tape. In the real, US mail. Anyway, I gotta tell you about this show.
Bruce Springsteen came on first. You know, because he’s from New Jersey. I mean, this guy is just a great performer. He talked about Asbury Park, and how it came back “thanks to an arts community moving in, thanks to a gay community,” so you would have liked that. He’s a pretty progressive guy. Did I ever tell you about that time your mom and I drove down to Passaic to see him back in ’78? Now that was a great concert. The crowd was just… well… sorry, I got a little carried away there. It was a memorable night.
Anyway, Springsteen finally got to “Born to Run,” but it was a mistake to bring that Jon Bon Jovi onstage. He just couldn’t keep up. We always thought that guy was kind of a rip-off of Springsteen. Bruce wasn’t even looking at him, really. I think he might have been embarrassed, actually. That leather shirt and that big hair weren’t doing Bon Jovi any favors, either. He’s not a young guy anymore. But performing with Springsteen was probably his lifelong dream, so what can you do?
Roger Waters is aging pretty well, though — and at least he played some songs I know! OK, yes, it was sort of weird to hear all these depressing songs from The Wall at this concert that was supposed to be inspiring. I liked it, though. They had some cute kids dancing at the front of the stage for “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).” Then, again, they have to bring some young kid onstage to sing the best song. I don’t know who this Eddie Veddie is, but he really ruined “Comfortably Numb.”
Then Adam Sandler came on. Oh, I know what you think of Adam Sandler. But he was really good. He did this great parody version of — oh, I don’t know if you’ll know the song. It’s a song from the ’80s. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Oh, you know it? That’s surprising. Anyway, it was a pretty funny parody. “Hallelujah. Sandy, screw ya.” I’m still laughing about it this morning. Hey, what are you getting so upset about?
Unfortunately, they brought Bon Jovi back. This time he was wearing some kind of turtleneck. I don’t know what’s going on with this guy. I think he’s a better actor than singer, if you want my honest opinion. Springsteen very graciously came back out for that “halfway there” song, and he tried to put on a happy face, but you could tell he didn’t think much of the song.
They spent a lot of time stalling — that Jon Stewart guy, I know you like him, was stalling and they were asking people to donate to help Sandy victims, which was good, but you just wanted them to get to Eric Clapton already. He was OK. Hey, don’t say that about Eric Clapton. Your mom loves him.
The Rolling Stones came on after that. Mick Jagger is a pretty funny guy. He made a great joke: “This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled.” It was true, really. So at least he’s got a good sense of humor about himself. They only played two songs, which I thought was kind of cheap. They looked old, but hey, Keith Richards — he’s still alive, and he can still play the guitar! It also made me think: Who is the greatest living rock ‘n’ roll performer? Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen? I can’t decide. What do you think? I think those two should have done a duet.
Have you heard of this Alicia Keys? She was actually excellent! Beautiful voice, and she can play the piano, too. I don’t know why they keep showing us these Lady Gagas and Ree-hannahs and Nicki whatever her name is and the one with the dollar sign in her name — how are you supposed to pronounce that? — with their weird costumes when there are actually people in your generation who can sing and play instruments. None of them can sing. I don’t think they even write their own songs. Doesn’t that bother you? Anyway, Alicia Keys was great until she started singing, “Put your cellphones in the air, help me celebrate love, help me celebrate life.” What was that supposed to be about? Were those the lyrics from a real song? I’m sorry, I know this makes me an old fogey, but I don’t think you can wave around a cellphone at a concert like it’s a lighter. I think that looks really stupid.
Steve Buscemi came on — he was really the only presenter all night who was any good. He was with these retired guys from the Rockaways, the Graybeards, who helped out a lot after Sandy. They kept heckling him, but he was a good sport about it, so it was hilarious. I think maybe they were drunk. Hell, who could blame them? These guys are heroes, right? They deserve a drink.
The Who played great songs. I mean, “Who Are You”? “Baba O’Reilly”? You can’t beat those songs. They’re still pretty wild, those guys, after all those years. They dropped at least two F-bombs, and whoever was doing the bleeping must have been asleep at the wheel, because he totally missed them. I don’t know about that part with Keith Moon projected on the screen, though. I also don’t know if a guy Roger Daltrey’s age should be running around with his shirt unbuttoned, but hey — he stayed in shape. Actually, I’m kind of glad your mom slept through that part. She keeps bugging me to try this exercise contraption she bought. What am I going to do with that? Daltrey was looking a little orange, too. He looked like… what’s her name? Snoopy?
You’re going to have to explain the next guy to me. Kanye West? Yes, of course I’ve heard the name before. I know he’s a rapper. But I thought he was kind of a tough guy or something. So, get this — he comes out in a skirt. A skirt. I don’t know, maybe it was a kilt. Anyway, he’s using parts of King Crimson songs — is that even legal? — and singing about “douche bags.” Does “douche” mean something different now than, well… you know? Stop laughing, because I’m telling you, it was weird. I’ve seen Jay-Z on TV before, and he’s a charismatic guy. I see why people like him. This Kanye West, though? I really didn’t get it.
That Kanye West was onstage for a good hour or two, and I was ready to give up, but finally they put Billy Joel on. I know, you laugh at Billy Joel. I don’t really understand why he’s such a joke these days. OK, he had a drinking problem. What musician doesn’t? But I don’t think you’d be laughing if you saw the actual set, because he sounded great. He did “River of Dreams.” He did “Only the Good Die Young.” I’m tell you, you’ve got to give Billy Joel another chance.
They let the REM guy’s little British brother play a few songs. He looked nervous, but he had a nice suit on. I wonder how much a suit like that goes for these days. I didn’t catch his name. Does he have a band? You like that song, “Losing My Religion,” right?
Finally, finally after like eight or ten hours, Paul McCartney comes on. I can see why they put him last, because they knew we were going to wait up and watch them. I tried to wake your mom — she loves Paul McCartney — but she was sound asleep. He looked a little weird, McCartney. He was just wearing these weird jeans. He gets to do whatever he wants, I guess. He’s still great, though. He did “Helter Skelter” and “Let Me Roll It” and “Blackbird” and “Live and Let Die.” There was this weird part in the middle, though. He said something about Nirvana and introduced these three guys I’ve never seen before. I mean, I guess they were the other guys in Nirvana, but I just know the blond guy, the one who died. The drummer looked a little bit familiar. And was one of them named “Pap Smear”? I could swear I heard McCartney introduce him as “Pap Smear.” That can’t be right, can it? So, they all played a song together. If you ask me, it wasn’t anything special.
Everyone else came out for one last song after McCartney, but I was exhausted. I just went to sleep.
Photo credit: Leib Tropper via Flicker