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  • 12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief @ Madison Square Garden, NYC 12/12/12
Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic

So last night the unthinkable happened: Paulvana, Nirmacca, Nicartney — whatever they’re calling themselves (Abomination is taken) — performed at the 12-12-12 Concert For Sandy Relief at Madison Square Garden. It should go without saying that my criticism/cynicism here is strictly musical and cultural: Whatever fresh hell occurred last night was very much in the service of a worthy cause and you should by all means donate. But musically and culturally? Man, I thought it was pretty banal at best, and gross at worst.

Sir Paul led into the performance telling a variation of the same anecdote the Guardian quoted yesterday: “So recently, some guys asked me to go and jam with them. So I showed up, like you do, ready to jam, and in the middle of it, these guys kept saying, ’We haven’t played together for years.’ The penny finally dropped — I finally understood that I was in the middle of a Nirvana reunion.” Sounds totally plausible! Then after introducing Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear, the band launched into a new song, “Cut Me Some Slack,” which — despite tight and enthusiastic performances all around — was a slog by any standard, particularly the ones set by, y’know, the Beatles and Nirvana. Again, very worthy cause, and if it takes such theatrics to get people to donate to Sandy relief, then you do what you gotta do.

Of course, McVana only did the one song; Paul did a short set of his own, as did Springsteen, Roger Waters (including a duet with Eddie Vedder on “Comfortably Numb”), Bon Jovi, Clapton, the Stones, Alicia Keys, Kanye, Chris Martin, Billy Joel, the Who, and Adam Sandler with Paul Schaffer, who performed a rewritten version of “Hallelujah.” Full setlist and video of the Nu-Fab Four below.

Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic & Pat Smear

Bruce Springsteen & Jon Bon Jovi

Roger Waters & Eddie Vedder

The Rolling Stones

The Who

Kanye West

Billy Joel

Chris Martin & Michael Stipe

THE 12.12.12 SETLIST

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
“Land of Hope and Dreams”
“Wrecking Ball”
“My City in Ruins” › “Working on a Building” › “Jersey Girl”
“Born to Run” with Jon Bon Jovi

Roger Waters
“Another Brick in the Wall”
“Us and Them”
“Comfortably Numb” with Eddie Vedder

Adam Sandler with Paul Schaffer
rewrite of “Hallelujah”

Bon Jovi
“It’s My Life”
“Wanted Dead or Alive”
“Who Says You Can’t Go Home” with Bruce Springsteen
“Living on a Prayer”

Eric Clapton
“Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out”
“Got to get Better in a Little While”

Rolling Stones
“You Got Me Rocking”
“Jumpin Jack Flash”

Alicia Keys
“Brand New Me”
“No One”

The Who
“Who are You”
“Pinball Wizard” › “See Me, Feel Me”
“Baba O’Riley”
“Tea & Theatre”

Kanye West
Abbreviated versions of:
“Jesus Walks”
“Run This Town”
“Diamonds From Sierra Leone”
“Touch the Sky”
“Gold Digger”
“Good Life”

Billy Joel
“Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)”
“Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
“New York State of Mind”
“River of Dreams”
“You May Be Right”
“Only the Good Die Young”

Chris Martin
“Viva la Vida”
“Losing My Religion” with Michael Stipe
“Us Against The World”

Paul McCartney
“Helter Skelter”
“Let Me Roll It”
“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five”
“My Valentine” with Diana Krall
“Cut Me Some Slack” with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear
“I Got a Feeling”
“Live and Let Die”

Alicia Keys
“Empire State of Mind”

Comments (52)
  1. Martin with Stipe was awesome, and Paul diggin a little deep into some Wings was great, but the rest of it, respectfully, was a hot mess.

  2. If not for Kanye and Alicia Keys, this show would have been whiter than the RNC. I know there were first responders and volunteers in the crowd, but for the most part, it was kind of like when you go see Springsteen and notice that most of the people up front are wealthy CEOs who spent $800 on their tickets on StubHub so they could “let loose” for the evening and dress casual (and by casual, I mean a sportjacket, button-down shirt tucked into a pair of $100 jeans and shoes.) Then there was that rich guy with the accent who tried to steal the spotlight on cam in the donation center by claiming to Whoopi and Brian Williams that he was going to donate a million dollars (but they cut away before he could have his moment.) Like stated above, if the show gets people donating, great, but when you’re staring at a sea of rich white people throughout the entire thing, it seems artificially genuine.

    • I so noticed that as well….you could have serpentined your way right to the front row untouched if you wanted to get close. Looked like a UBS christmas party.

      • This was a charity event, all charity events have rich people showing each other just how rich and charitable they are and getting crazy tax write-offs. For tickets (purchased legitimately, costing anywhere between $150 and $2500) 100% went to the relief fund, supposedly. I think it was completely genuine in that sense. This is like one of the $1500 a plate dinners for Toys for Tots.

        Not only was it white as hell but it was also (clearly) intended for an older audience with hopefully deep pockets.

        NirCartney was much better then I imagined it could have been.

  3. McCartney, as old as my Grandpa, did more than hold his own with Grohl et al. Hearing the rhythm section on that song, btw, brought chills.

    I thought Eddie Vedder did a great vocal on “Comfortably Numb” and emphasized how lame the rest of that set was.

    And, Clapton and his band were about 10 levels musically above anything else, though Clapton should just play guitar and let someone else sing.

  4. The best collaboration of the night must have been Kanye & leather skirt

  5. Respectfully, I think you’re very, very wrong. Were we listening to the same performance? That was awesome!

    • I think the performances, individually and even collectively, were strong: Grohl and McCartney are literally two of the best ever at what they do and they didn’t hold back. But I sincerely thought the song itself was dull and maybe even a little irritating. At their best, Nirvana and McCartney — and even the Foo Fighters, frankly — write brilliant melodies; “Cut Me Some Slack” was a generic bar jam (to my ear) delivered by legends who are capable of much better.

      • I don’t know you guys, it was a weird experience for me. it was fun to watch them play at the same time, but the sounds coming out of mccartney’s kleenex box guitar and co. were, at best, woof. who the fuck wrote that song? Pat? I shouldn’t be listening to these musicians and mentally placing them below velvet revolver in terms of song quality – that’s just sad for me and for all of us, really.

        I would place this below the Beatles “free as a bird” but above a mike love “beach boys” concert, and that’s a day wrecker.

  6. How could anyone possibly hold a straight face when suggesting a Paul McCartney and Nirvana collaboration? Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters, okay. I could see that. But Nirvana?

  7. paul’s story reminds me of this one time when scottie pippen called me up and was like, “hey cornell, you wanna play some ball?” and i was like, “sure, i’m down.” then some other guy with all these piercings and crazy tattoos showed up, and he was pulling down boards left and right. and they kept saying, “we haven’t done this for years.” and i was like, “done what?”

    then, it finally hit me: i was in the middle of a 2nd 3-peat bulls reunion. and i was jordan! crazy, i tell you.

    • …and then jordan showed up and was like, “you guys realize i’m not dead, right?”

      • The weirdest part about the anecdote is: The only way it can be accepted at face value is if Paul is going senile, which (A) seems unlikely given the ferocity and engagement of his performance, and (B) would be the type of thing his handlers would want to HIDE, not flaunt, so why would they allow him to go around repeating the same story to massive media outlets and billions of TV viewers? And that makes the whole thing even more of a drag, because if he’s not senile (and to be clear, I think and hope he’s not and never will be), then he’s openly lying to give the collaboration some appearance of validity to anyone naive enough to believe in such fairy tales.

        • …and it wasn’t like this was the first time Paul McCartney had encountered or even played with Dave Grohl in his life (I believe Grohl sat in on drums at the Grammys and maybe some big live shows, too. There was that rumor that Grohl would be playing drums with him at Coachella a few years back.) I assumed that the two had already become chummy in a professional sense and that Macca knows full well of what Grohl’s résumé consists of.

          • Right. Beyond that, Novoselic, Smear and (obvs) Grohl played on the last Foo Fighters record (2011) so the whole “We haven’t played together for years” thing is disingenuous at best.

          • The Foos record wasn’t recorded live, guy.

          • That’s true. There’s also no shortage of live footage of Krist playing with the Foos (ft. Grohl and Pat) in 2011. I also have trouble believing that Paul McCartney (age: 70; net worth: $800 million) just shows up at a jam session essentially unaware of who’s going to be there and slowly pieces together, on his own, that the three guys he’s playing with are the same three guys who were playing with Kurt Cobain on Unplugged — especially when that unlikely story then becomes the subject of a massive viral publicity campaign for an event that eventually brought in $30 mil in ticket sales alone. I just don’t buy it! But hey, stranger things have happened.

          • LOL @ Michael for believing what rock stars say!!!

        • Meh. Can I see Macca not knowing Krist Novoselic on sight, and maybe not even recognizing the name — and Novoselic is the only non-Foo in the backing group.

          Non-issue. Let the man have his story.

      • and mike was wearing this shit

    • This analogy might actually work if you were, say, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

    • That was basically the greatest thing I’ve ever read.

  8. Old? Yeah. White? Of course. But what did you expect for an internationally televised fundraiser? If you want a lot of money you have to cater to those with…(wait for it)…a lot of money. And the people who pay $300 to see the Stones or $500 to see Sir Paul are the people you want tuning in, not the people who accidentally caught 15 minutes of Kanye West at Coachella on their way to the Mumford and Sons tent or whatever.

    So what did we learn from last night?

    The Rolling Stones stink. Anemic versions of “Rocking” and “Flash”? If anything their performance last night was a commercial for skipping their upcoming tour. What a mess. Yeah, they used to “party hard” and have a lot of miles on them, but jeez guys, if you’re going to play a benefit at MSG you might want to actually put a set together with more than two songs. Crazy, I know.

    The Who still deliver a lively performance and they appear like they may actually be having fun up there. Of course, it’s the half-Who, but they still sounded better than they did during the Super Bowl Halftime show they did not too long ago.

    After an interminable Kanye West performace (talk about not knowing your target viewing demographic), Billy Joel looked like the greatest songwriter since Mozart. He isn’t, of course, it’s just that Kanye West is really , really, really terrible. Like, hey-Kanye-find-Chris-Brown-and-fly-together-in-a-Mexican-pop-star’s-Learjet terrible.

    Alicia Keys doesn’t own a mirror. That dress made her look like an orange sausage.

    Chris Martin knows his place. Three quickies and out.

    And Paul McCartney. Sheeeeeit. He blew the Stones, the Who, Bruce, Bon Scroti et al off the stage. The friggin’ guy is so old he needs to be carbon-14 dated and he opens with Helter Skelter, busts out Let Me Roll It, plays with Nirvana, does I’ve Got A Feeling, and almost burns MSG down with fireworks during Live and Let Die.

    And yes, the NirMacca song was damned good. Not Nirvana good, not Beatles good, but like…dirty, fuzzy Wings good. Deal with it, folks. It worked.

    • There were moments with Kanye during his schizophrenic performance where I was like, OK, he’s gonna reel it in now and then would launch into something like Runaway, strut around the stage announcing to the crowd he be “givin toasts to douchebags, scumbags & assholes,” and I’m like, “Hey Ye? You’re at a fundraiser to support so many people devastated by an unthinkable storm, and this is your song choice?”

  9. I take it when Dave offered to sing Paul just said “Get back to where you once belonged”. I’ll get my coat…

  10. And that’s why people hate critics.

  11. Waters opened with “In the Flesh” before “Another Brick” if you feel like updating setlist. Otherwise looking good.

  12. Why do so many people give a shit? Some talented musicians played a song together. So what? Why is this unthinkable?

  13. You know, if Paul wouldn’t have even said the name Nirvana, everyone would be cool with this. Personally I thought it was pretty entertaining. The song wasn’t bad. Id go see them, if they didn’t play a single Kurt era Nirvana song.


  15. Kanye was terrible. It was kind of just deserts to see him have to perform for a crowd that didn’t shift all the 13 year olds to the front like every awards show does for him. It was actually pretty pathetic. The old geezers won this round.

  16. anyone have any thoughts on roger waters looking an absolute idiot? That performance was embarrassing. All the douche-y rock and roll posturing in the world can’t make up for something THAT atrocious. He can barely sing anymore and even his bass playing was pretty shoddy, nowhere near the “pocket”. He was busy being in love with himself.

  17. Who’s the bastard that told Quentin Tarantino it was fancy dress??

  18. I dont really know what to say to be honest. Im still in WTF mode.

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