NEW YORK – Fans were in a “New York State of Mind” Wednesday night at the 12-12-12 concert for Sandy relief.
The crowd went wild for Billy Joel, whose hits like “New York State of Mind” and “River of Dreams” seemed to successfully bridge the age gap in the very diverse audience for the nationally televised show.
With acts that ranged from rap star Kanye West to Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, Joel was a good middle ground for the crowd at the show. His name was a top trend on Twitter following the concert, but he wasn’t the only stand-out act that had fans talking.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off the benefit concert at 7:30 p.m. and set the tone for a night of all-star performances.
The Who, Jon Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton and Eddie Vedder were just some of the major performers of the evening.
Perhaps Mick Jagger put it best when he took the stage with the Rolling Stones and said, “This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden.”
"But if it rains in London, you’ve got to come help us, OK?" he joked.
Still, many participants in the show, which raised money for the Robin Hood Relief Fund, were natives to the New York or New Jersey area.
Jersey shore hero Springsteen addressed the rebuilding process as he introduced 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. He said what makes the Jersey shore special is its inclusiveness, that it is a place where people of all incomes and backgrounds can fit in.
"I pray that characteristic remains along the Jersey shore because that's what makes it special," Springsteen said.
Joel also opened up about his home on Long Island, reassuring the crowd that the area will overcome the devastation of the storm.
“We’re going to be OK,” he said. “We’re going to get through this.”
But regardless of their origins, all the performers were equally determined to help Superstorm Sandy victims.
“The atmosphere backstage is absolutely amazing,” Roger Waters told reporters after his set. “There’s a real sense of camaraderie.”
The Pink Floyd rocker said the all-star lineup was a bonus in performing in the show, saying taking the stage with Vedder was magical and “a dream come true.”
Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band added that the musicians’ willingness to lend their time for the benefit show was typical of the industry.
“I’m always quite proud of the fact that the music business and entertainers in general, are always the first to help,” he said. “It makes me proud to be part of the music industry.”
He said that’s why Springsteen and his band didn’t think twice before signing on for the charity show.
“As a band--in the E Street Band—when there’s trouble we run towards it we don’t run away,” he said.
Another powerful pairing of the night came when Coldplay’s Chris Martin surprised fans by bringing R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe on stage with him to perform “Losing My Religion.”
Before starting his set, the singer joked he was probably not the British performer the crowd was hoping for.
“I know you really wanted to see One Direction,” Martin said. “But it’s past their bedtime.”
It seemed the nearly six hour concert lasted past some of the fans’ bedtimes as well. Though Sir Paul McCartney was expected to be the stand-out performer of the evening, his set started nearly an hour late at around 12:40 a.m. and many audience member left as the former Beatle performed.
However, those that did stay were treated to a unique show, as McCartney played the role of Kurt Cobain with Nirvana members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear during his set.
Alicia Keys took the stage for the final song of the evening. Keys was the only main female act of the night, and she performed several of her hits earlier in the evening before closing the show with an impressive performance of “Empire State of Mind.”
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.
Proceeds from the show will be distributed through the Robin Hood Foundation. More than $30 million was raised through ticket sales alone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.