Which was more amazing for you: the artistic achievement of this concert, the amount of money it raised to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy, or the historic way the evening was shared around the world?
It was a surreal, technological moment when Jimmy Fallon tweeted his picture looking into the audience while he was on stage. Not only could we see his point of view, but we could see it as he introduced the Rolling Stones. Wow. Alicia Keys turned cell phones into the new Bic lighter and as everyone lifted their device high they seemed to hold the magic power of a new, human connectedness. And it's not the first time we've seen real-time tweets during an event, but so large and scrolling across Madison Square Garden's ceiling, it gave these responses a sense of heavenly importance they don't normally have moving across the bottom of a screen. This evening offered a "togetherness" with viewers around the world that I hadn't before experienced.
Bruce's call to "rise up" had me standing in front of the couch and "Born to Run" with Bon Jovi was just the first of many rock-gasm's the night had in store. As Billy Crystal's wit (and growing forehead) shined into our living room, I could tell it was going to be one transcendent moment after the next and I was afraid to go to the bathroom because I might miss something. The joke was on us because before we tuned in, we predicted "the 12/12/12" might not make for good television.
Even before Eddie Vedder appeared, Roger Waters was already exceeding my expectations while the surface of the moon rushed past on the screen behind him during "Us and Them." And yes, "Comfortably Numb" was rapturous and beyond. Eddie Vedder channeled Joe Cocker for me at first and I thought that also would have been a great duet, but it was nice to have a 48-year-old youngster like Eddie up there. Two generations of rock stars singing their hearts out for the greater good. Cynicism need not apply.
Here's more thoughts about the show:
Adam Sandler: Breaking out of the reverent mood, he killed New Jersey, but with love. "The highways smell like poo-ya." So true, but my favorite part of Sandler's "Hallelujah" was Paul Schaffer's raspy, growling: "Kung Fu Ya!"
Kristen Stewart: It was nice to see Kristen walking and talking, looking a little ditzy and regular, not that I don't love the work of art she usually looks like. Her unscriptedness left her vulnerable and real, and so did her goofy ears.
Bon Jovi: Yes on the black turtleneck. Is there a Team Turtleneck yet? I love "Wanted Dead or Alive" even if I'm not the biggest Bon Jovi fan, and I'd mark this number down as another notable one for rock history.
Eric Clapton: By this point, I must have had some kind of amazing-performance-overload because I was not feeling Clapton. Or was he not projecting much in contrast with everyone else? It was making me look forward to the Rolling Stones coming up, but by "Crossroads" I forget all about them. Clapton does not come to you, you're drawn to him because the man can play.
Chelsea Clinton: This poised, young woman could conceivably be the first daughter twice!
The Rolling Stones: Well, Steve Buscemi already kicked around the brevity of their appearance. I choose to focus on what 70 can look like. I don't think there were many 70 year-old role models like this when I was growing up. There aren't many like this now either, and most of them were at Madison Square Garden the other night. Keith Richards already looked 70 when he was 20, so he's just catching up.
The Who: Keith Moon came eerily alive for us on film and Roger Daltrey singing with him was like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. So was his timeless torso. And "Pinball Wizard" got me thinking: There's just not that much great rock opera out there anymore. I wonder who could pull off a high concept project like Tommy or The Wall today. Youngsters: the challenge is on!
(Oh, there was more to this concert? Yikes, I fell asleep. Here I am challenging youngsters, and I can't even stay awake past 10:30. Good thing the concert went so late, because that means people like me will have to contribute to this worthy cause on iTunes).