Stars come together for Sandy Telethon

As the fallout of Hurricane – sorry ‘Superstorm’ Sandy (as the media have now dubbed it in the eternal quest for a catchier soundbite) continues to afflict the East Coast of the United States, a host of stars came together for a live telethon on NBC to raise money for the victims.

Matt Lauer hosted the hour long fundraiser with special guests Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Danny Devito and Brian Williams and performances from Christina Aguilera, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel , Aerosmith, Mary J Blige, Sting and the original New Jersey voice of the working man himself – the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

With the notable exception of Sting, all the performers had deep roots within the affected communities and there was a pathos and a heartfelt personal connection both in their songs and in what they had to say about the effect of Sandy on their hometowns and the wider East Coast. With news montages throwing up the sheer scale of destruction and pleas for donations, many of the songs had been adapted and customised for the night.

There were however moments of fun and an unshakeable spirit as a rendition of ‘Under the Boardwalk’ was belted out by talk show host Jimmy Fallon and Steve Tyler of Aerosmith on lead vocals, Billy Joel on the baritone and backing vocals by Bruce Springsteen. Conspicuously free of glitz and glamour and with an almost ad hoc feel to the show, this felt very, very real and very personal. The finale belonged to the Boss who had always been the blue collar poet of the working class East Coast. The soaring tones of ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ rang out into the night ending on the lyrical mantra “Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine. And all this darkness past.”

Perhaps the most telling words belonged to host Matt Lauer. “One of the great ironies of this telethon is that the people who need the help most can’t watch it. They don’t have power.” But with all donations going to the American Red Cross, here’s hoping a real difference was made.

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