Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band got 12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief off to a rollicking start Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden with a poignant opening set that included "Land of Hopes and Dreams," "Wrecking Ball" and "My City of Ruins."
The concert donated 100 percent of its proceeds to the Robin Hood Relief Fund, a large-scale relief effort launched specifically to aid people in the tri-state area whose lives were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The concert was telecast commercial-free on 37 television networks in the U.S., as well as on radio stations and streaming sites around the country and around the world.
The evening was jam-packed with famous faces, including performers like Springsteen, emcees such as host Billy Crystal and even manning the benefit's telephone phone bank backstage — which at one point boasted an impressive Sopranos reunion. Many of the celebrities were New York and New Jersey natives themselves. Long Island's Billy Joel performed moving versions of "Miami 2017″ and "New York State of Mind" while Garden State natives Brian Williams and Jon Stewart shared their memories of going down to the Jersey Shore as kids. "When I grew up, the Jersey Shore was everything," Stewart recalled. "It was the only place in the world I couldn't wait to share with my kids." Added Sopranos star James Gandolfini: "It's a whole way of life."
The night featured several memorable collaborations, such as not one, but two duets by famous Jersey rockers Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi on their respective hits "Born to Run" and "Who Says You Can't Go Home." Roger Waters and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder performed "Comfortably Numb" together, while Chris Martin and a post-REM-breakup Michael Stipe joined forces for a powerful take on "Losing My Religion." However, the most original duet of the evening came courtesy of New Yorker Adam Sandler and Late Show with David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer. They unveiled an entirely new take on Leonard Cohen's famous "Hallelujah" with lyrics about the strength of the city (sample lyric: "Hal-le-lu-jah, Sandy screw ya").
In by far the most anticipated — and most unusual — collaboration of the night, headliner Sir Paul McCartney joined with the surviving members of Nirvana (Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear) to perform "Cut Me Some Slack." The former Beatle closed the show with earlier act Alicia Keys for "Empire State of Mind (Part II)."
Other performers included Eric Clapton, The Who, Kanye West, and The Rolling Stones, whose frontman Mick Jagger joked, "If it rains in London, you gotta come help us." Other presenters and guests included Kristen Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, P. Diddy, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi, Chris Rock, Jake Gyllenhaal, Blake Lively, Jason Sudeikis, Katie Holmes, Christoph Waltz, Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Foxx.
Also in attendance were many of the local police officers, firefighters, nurses and other volunteers who were helped in the immediate wake of Sandy.
Full performances from Wednesday's show will be available for purchase on iTunes.com. To donate, click here or call 1-855-465-4357.
What was your favorite performance from Wednesday's concert?