Everyone is doing a livestream these days. And while I always appreciate the effort exerted by musicians, Broadway stars and other artists trying to produce work to entertain and inspire people during this pandemic, the truth is that a lot of it isn't very good. Sometimes it's just because of the wonky technology involved (looking at you Adam Sandler, upgrade your Internet already!), sometimes it's because people are performing loose and off-the-cuff, and sometimes it's because they aren't necessarily a great solo act. Most of the time it's because this new normal way of "attending" a live event is just depressing and lacking in a feeling of connection.
But every once in awhile, there's a livestream performance that completely blows me away—and that happened last night during the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit concert raising money for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, when Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa performed a pair of songs together. They first sang Springsteen fave "Land Of Hope And Dreams," which was typically great, then returned later in the broadcast to sing Tom Waits' classic "Jersey Girl." And that is the performance that absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Springsteen's voice has gotten raspier as he's gotten older, but the combination of that sandpaper texture, his vocal control, and Scialfa's beautiful harmonies is intoxicating. Coupled with their unmistakable chemistry, forged by their decades-long marriage and partnership in music, it's one of the best performances I've seen since the pandemic began.
You can watch both performances below ("Jersey Girl" starts around 4:08).
This wasn't the only great performance during the benefit: Fountains Of Wayne enlisted Sharon Van Etten to perform their song "Hackensack," and it was an incredibly moving tribute to their bandmate Adam Schlesinger, who died of COVID-19 earlier this month. “This is for Adam, his parents, his children, and New Jersey,” singer Chris Collingwood said.
Jon Bon Jovi gets the prize for "Best Performance In Front Of A Giant Photo Of Himself When He Was Younger." He performed "Livin' On A Prayer" and "Do What You Can," a new song he wrote specifically about coronavirus.
SZA sounded great singing "20 Something," accompanied by her friend Carter Lang on guitar.
Tony Bennett performed "Smile," Halsey performed "finally // beautiful stranger," and Charlie Puth performed a cover of Springsteen's "Growin' Up."
The benefit—which also featured Jon Stewart, Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg, Chelsea Handler, Kelly Ripa, and Saquon Barkley—hasn't officially been put online, but you can watch the whole thing in the video below for now.
As of Thursday, New Jersey has 99,989 confirmed cases, and 5,368 deaths due to COVID-19, making it the second most number of cases and deaths in the entire nation.