The Concert For New York City • Saturday, October 20, 2001

ConcertBy Paul McCartney


From Wikipedia:

The Concert for New York City was a benefit concert, featuring many famous musicians, that took place on October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden in New York City in response to the September 11 attacks. Aside from performing for charity, the concert was an attempt to honor the first responders from the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department, their families, and those lost in the attacks and those who had worked in the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in the weeks since that time.

The concert was organized by Paul McCartney and included many of his legendary British contemporaries, including The Who, Rolling Stones bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, David Bowie, Elton John, and Eric Clapton. American artists included Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, the Backstreet Boys, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Melissa Etheridge, Five for Fighting, Goo Goo Dolls, John Mellencamp with Kid Rock, and a humorous performance by Adam Sandler as “Operaman,” singing a medley covering the events of 9/11, the greatness of New York City, and about Osama Bin Laden being a coward. Paul Shaffer acted as Musical Director for the show and various celebrities and political figures including Howard Stern and Rudy Giuliani appeared between the acts.

Many athletes also appeared between the acts including Joe Torre, whose Yankees were on their way to competing in their fourth consecutive World Series. The concert also included several short films made by New York City’s most notable filmmakers such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee.

Over 60 stars that participated in the concert signed unique memorabilia backstage at Madison Square Garden that were later auctioned off to support the Robin Hood Foundation. The autographed items included 3 large posters of the concert and 3 customized 24″ drumheads. Other items included a complete drumset and guitar.


Critical reaction

In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine selected this concert, along with the earlier America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon, as one of the 50 moments that changed rock and roll.[citation needed] It was also voted the #4 greatest moment in the history of Madison Square Garden. On December 7, 2008, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who received Kennedy Center Honors from the President of the United States, and after several musicians performed their music, the finale was a surprise chorus of New York City police officers and rescue personnel who had been touched by their performance.


When I did the 9/11 Concert For New York, that was so astonishing in terms of the audience reaction. I can’t think of any other show that was so amazing in that way. You had a city, a country, in so much shock and fear about terrorism… after this attack on their own land which hadn’t happened since Pearl Harbor. There was such a powerful, emotional feedback that really turned us on as a band. Moments like that, it’s what it’s all about. That’s where the wonder is, I’ve never grown out of that. None of us should. Because it’s powerful shit when people are that into you.

Paul McCartney – From interview with UNCUT, July 2004

Was that your first time playing onstage with Paul?

It was the second time. The first one was this small benefit thing. We just played a few songs. The Concert for New York was just ridiculous. All of a sudden, being in his orbit and having this event …Everyone was afraid to fly. Drew Barrymore wouldn’t even get on an airplane. No one wanted to get on an airplane. I didn’t want to get on one. But I was like, “If Paul can do it, I can do it.”

I flew there and all of a sudden it was like, “Here’s Pete Townshend. Here’s Eric Clapton. The Stones are over here.” It was a who’s who. President Clinton was there. Bush was in office, but he was a recent president. It was just a lot at once.

This was basically the biggest rock event of the year. You’re playing with the headliner. This was a pretty big step up for you.

It was a lot. You can’t really process it at the time. You’d just hang out. I’d worked with Elton already. He came up to me and gave me a big kiss. That was super cool. It made me feel a little bit relaxed and at home.

Paul also has a very relaxing approach. I’m realizing the older I get, nerves are at the center … They are your enemy. They will keep you from really being your best. The whole thing is to just get into what you’re doing, and being in the moment for something like that.

The band that night was the same band Paul uses now?

Not quite. [Guitarist-bassist] Brian [Ray] came in just after that to flesh out the lineup.

How did it feel to you to play “I’m Down” and the other Beatles songs at the Garden that night?

Incredible. You can’t process it. You just want to do a good job. It was also surreal since I thought, “You go up onstage and it’ll be the big Woodstock lights. It’ll feel intoxicating and you’ll get into the groove and the moment.” If you’ll remember, Jim Carrey introduced us. Then we go onstage, and then I realized that because this whole thing is really about the firefighters, all the people in the call of duty, our fallen comrades, and just incredible valor … The job all these people did after 9/11. All these firefighters were in the front. They had these filming TV lights aimed at the audience.

You could see every single face, which is unusual. It’s almost like when you play a big show, the lights go to a certain people and everyone else is a soup. This one, I felt like I was in a giant classroom. I thought, “Wow. If I can do this, I can do anything.”

Rusty Anderson – Interview with Rolling Stone – October 11, 2023

In the wake of 9/11 The Who performed at Madison Square Garden at the Concert for New York that Paul and Heather McCartney had conceived while grounded on their plane on the runway at Kennedy Airport, watching rhe distant smoke rising from the World Trade Center. As the lights went up I was stunned to see that most of the audience were in uniform; police, firefighters, paramedics, men and women, were tossing their hats in the air to ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. Many of these very tough guys were weeping.

Pete Townshend – From “Who I Am“, 2012

Last updated on February 14, 2024

Madison Square Garden

This was the 7th concert played at Madison Square Garden.

A total of 18 concerts have been played there • 1976May 24thMay 25th1989Dec 11thDec 12thDec 14thDec 15th2001Oct 20th2002Apr 26thApr 27th2005Sep 30thOct 1stOct 4thOct 5th2012Dec 10thDec 11thDec 12th2017Sep 15thSep 17th

Setlist for the concert


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Mark Morris 2 years ago

I was watching on TV that 10/20/2011 I've been a Paul McCartney fan from 1964.
A few weeks later I reenlisted in the army

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