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TV review: 12-12-12 concert from Madison Square Garden

Paul McCartney performs at the 12-12-12 concert benefiting

Paul McCartney performs at the 12-12-12 concert benefiting The Robin Hood Relief Fund to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 12, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

TV or not TV, to have borne witness to the 12-12-12 concert for Sandy Relief victims from Madison Square Garden last night? Or to put this another way, TV . . . or the crowds, waiting, set breaks, drunk guy next to you, the one-hundred-plus-bucks for tickets or thousand-plus-bucks for tickets for those dumb enough to shell out to scalpers?

Well, put that way, you have your answer. TV was fabulous.

And there were so very many options, most defined by your appetite for unguarded expletives entering the confines of your living room with the kiddies hanging around. (Know what I mean, Sandler?)

I sampled three venues — Ion, HBO and Channel 55, and in terms of picture quality and sound all were identical. But the delay technology appeared to not only eliminate the expletives, but to garble the dialogue to such an extent that you thought you were time-traveling back to "Twin Peaks" listening to the Man from Another Place speak backward. (OK, fine — at least I did.) HBO, no such problem.

But enough about "Twin Peaks:" As a viewing experience, the concert was superlative — surprisingly well-paced, with interstitials that ranged from raunchy (Sandler) to emotional — Jon Stewart, who delivered an impassioned plea for Jersey that had the unique benefit of being both powerful and genuine. (He has a home near the shore, and knows well of what he spoke.)

The acts ranged from breathtaking to occasionally not. Roger Waters devoured  an early chunk of the evening and after the Springsteen/Bon Jovi romp, he was almost somnambulistic — a very long walk down memory lane. The Stones of course were brief and electrifying — apparently unwilling to overstay their huge welcome, Jagger dashed ("see ya later") after just two songs, leaving a few million to wonder whether that forced the Who to expand their set. Yes, the Who, seemed to play both sides of their greatest hits album — made more familiar by the dubious decision to sell a good chunk of it to CBS years ago for "CSI," rendering some of those great songs into great commercial TV jingles.

Kanye was fascinating, but for not all the right reasons. The minute he strode on stage a new twitter hashtag appeared — #theleatherdress — and the minute Billy Joel arrived, the dress sadly was forgotten. (Joel was, as always, the perfect fit for TV and TV audiences; no dresses, only the old familiar and beloved songs.)

Dave Grohl turned up the lights and the noise with McCartney at the end; the extreme youth among us think of him associated with the Foo Fighters, long ago he was with another great band called Nirvana . . . The reunion woke up the crowd and the TV set: A great end to an remarkable event, and it was all there, on the tube.

Tags: 12-12-12 concert , paul mcartney , 12-12-12 concert for comedy relief

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