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Biggest Gig Since Live Aid – The Hurricane Sandy Benefit

The date of 12th December 2012 – or 12.12.12 – saw a flurry of people around the world rushing to […]

The date of 12th December 2012 – or 12.12.12 – saw a flurry of people around the world rushing to get married given the unusual nature of the date. It was also the date chosen by the organisers of what was billed as the largest charity gig since Live Aid, the concert at Madison Square Gardens in New York to raise funds for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, which hit much of New York, New Jersey and the eastern coast of the USA with high winds and flooding in late October.


Such a high profile event attracted some of the best known names in the world of rock and pop. Performers such as Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones all took their Marshall M15 CFX amps to New York and performed free of charge in order to raise funds. Although the line-up featured mainly older, established acts there were also appearances from Coldplay and Kanye West. One of the main areas of controversy was the news that Nirvana were to perform together for the first time in 18 years, with Paul McCartney helping out on vocals.


Demand to see such a stellar line-up in such an iconic venue was enormous, and tickets sold out instantly when they went on sale online. The initial selling price of the tickets ranged from $150 to $2,500, but as soon as the official tickets sold out they were changing hands for many times more on auction sites and the black market. The ticket sales alone raised $30 million towards the good causes being supported.


In the USA, the concert was a major television event, and it was streamed live on many major television stations. As most of Europe was asleep while the concert was happening, it was not such big news on our side of the pond. The money paid by the stations for the rights to show the concert has also boosted the money raised for the hurricane relief effort. Londoners who were up late had the chance to see the concert broadcast live on digital billboards in Piccadilly Circus, but even with the best Marshall M15 CFX technology, the sound quality was nothing compared with watching online or seeing it live.


The show kicked off with New Jersey hero Bruce Springsteen, and between acts there were video clips of showbiz stars such as Susan Sarandon, Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal and Katie Holmes. As is often the case with charity performances, there were many collaborations so audiences were treated to Jon Bon Jovi joining Springsteen on Born to Run and Chris Martin from Coldplay singing Losing My Religion with REM. Critical response to the concert was good, but it is hard to criticize an event raising funds for such a good cause. The final amount raised by the performers is yet to be confirmed, but is likely to run into several millions of dollars, which will help rebuilding the states and helping the residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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Morag P writes on subjects as diverse as music and politics, for a large range of blogs and websites. You can find out more about Morag Peers on her Google+ page.

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