From The Times
It was one of the most extraordinary jam sessions in the history of rock’n’roll: Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, Billie Joel, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Sting and James Taylor — to mention a few — on stage for five hours, playing some of the most iconic songs of modern times.
The music extravaganza, at Madison Square Gardens, New York, was a celebration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary, and featured a reunion of past inductees that had a roaring crowd on its feet well past midnight.
The night’s emotional highlight came courtesy of Wonder, who broke down in tears as he sang Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel in a tribute to the late singer, who died of a heart attack in June.
During the chorus Wonder stopped singing, bent his head and started to sob, before regaining his composure to finish the song, leading the crowd with chants of “We love Michael Jackson” and “Long live Michael Jackson!”
One of the biggest roars came when Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon walked on stage, an ovation that only intensified after their rendition of their classic Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon also performed the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun — a song written by the late George Harrison — as a tribute to the star, whom he called “a man who I truly loved and admired greatly”. Eric Clapton was due to take part, but was forced to pull out after undergoing surgery to remove gallstones. His place was taken by Jeff Beck.
The night also featured collaborations between a number of rock legends: Springsteen, who played for nearly two hours, joined Joel to sing New York State of Mind and Only the Good Die Young.
“It’s been incredible being in a room with musicians . . . who put music in your head,” Springsteen said. The night ended with all the artists on stage performing Jackie Wilson’s (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.
Earlier, Wonder performed some of his most famous hits, including Living for the City and Superstition. He also gave the spotlight to the blues legend BB King — now 84 — who performed The Thrill Is Gone, while Smokey Robinson sang the Miracles’ classic The Tracks of My Tears.
Some of the artists used the concert to celebrate an earlier generation of stars. Simon brought out Dion, and Little Anthony and the Imperials, while Springsteen showcased Sam Moore and John Fogerty.
The concert was the first of two — last night U2, Aretha Franklin and Metallica were due to perform. The proceeds will help to fund the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.