NEW YORK — Music and comedy royalty struck a defiant tone in a benefit concert for Superstorm Sandy victims Wednesday, asking for help to rebuild a New York metropolitan area most of them know well.
The sold-out Madison Square Garden show was televised, streamed online and aired on radio all over the world. Producers said up to 2 billion people could experience the concert live.
“When are you going to learn,” comic and New Jersey native Jon Stewart said. “You can throw anything at us — terrorists, hurricanes. You can take away our giant sodas. It doesn’t matter. We’re coming back stronger every time.”
Jersey shore hero Bruce Springsteen set a roaring tone, opening the concert with “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Wrecking Ball.” He addressed the rebuilding process in introducing his song “My City of Ruins,” noting it was written about the decline of Asbury Park, N.J., before that city’s renaissance over the past decade. What made the Jersey shore special was its inclusiveness, a place where people of all incomes and backgrounds could find a place, he said.
Adam Sandler hearkened back to his “Saturday Night Live” days with a ribald rewrite of the oft-sung “Hallelujah” that composer Leonard Cohen never would have dreamed. The rewritten chorus says, “Sandy, screw ya, we’ll get through ya, because we’re New Yawkers.”
The music lineup was heavily weighted toward classic rock, which has the type of fans able to afford a show for which ticket prices ranged from $150 to $2,500.
“This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden,” Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger said.
The sold-out “12-12-12” concert was being shown on 37 television stations in the United States and more than 200 others worldwide. It was to be streamed on 30 websites, including YouTube and Yahoo, and played on radio stations. Theaters, including 27 in the New York region, were showing it live. More than $30 million was raised through ticket sales alone.