As we near the end of 2022 — and my 37th year of writing about music in New Jersey — I’m not going to try to sum up the year in music, or write about my favorite albums. It would like to re-visit, though, four particular concerts — two that I saw in person, one that I watched live on my computer, and one that I saw the next day, on YouTube — that just struck me as incredible, once-in-a-life moments. Moments that just took my breath away, as I watched them, and that I’m sure struck many other people the same way.
Here they are, in chronological order, along with videos.
June 16: Two days before his 80th birthday, Paul McCartney ended the spring leg of his Got Back Tour with a show at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Bruce Springsteen showed up as a special guest and, in an incredibly generous gesture, McCartney stepped into a supporting role for The Boss’ “Glory Days” before the two performed The Beatles’ early rocker “I Wanna Be You Man” together. Springsteen also returned later, to add some guitar to “The End,” and Jon Bon Jovi led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday to You” to McCartney.
July 23: Elton John kicked off a two-night MetLife Stadium stand as part of what he says will be his last tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road (currently scheduled to end in July 2023, in Europe). The whole show was great, but one of the moments that really stood out for me was when he talked sincerely about the deep connection he has felt throughout his career with New Jersey and New York, before ending the show with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” “It’s my 187th show in the tri-state area,” he said. “And … tomorrow night will be my last show, ever, in New York and New Jersey … You’ve made my life amazing, and you’ve given me so much love, always.”
July 24: This is the one I watched the next day, on YouTube, as did countless others throughout the world. I’m aware of the health challenges Joni Mitchell has faced and, like many people, I assumed she would never perform in public again. But at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island, she joined Brandi Carlile and other friends and admirers for a 13-song set, including this luminous version of “Both Sides Now.”
Sept. 3: I was glued to my computer for a livestream of the Sept. 3, 2022 concert paying tribute to the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins at Wembley Stadium in London that featured the surviving Foo Fighters as well as Paul McCartney, Chrissie Hynde, members of Rush, Queen, The Police and AC/DC, and many others. The high point, for me, was when Hawkins’ 16-year-old son Shane played drums on “My Hero” and absolutely nailed it. In particular, check out his solo at the 5:15 mark, and the way Dave Grohl and the other Foo Fighters look on in awe and admiration.
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