The Bridge School Benefit is an annual non-profit charity concert held in Mountain View, California every October at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The concerts are all organized by musician Neil Young and his wife, Pegi.
Proceeds benefit the Bridge School, which assists children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs. One of the thrusts of the program is the use of advanced augmentative and alternative communication systems and assistive technology.
The Bridge Benefit Concert XV on October 21 & 21, 2001 saw Tracy Chapman’s 4th appearance at the Bridge, after having been part of the artist in 1988, 1989 and 1991. That year Crazy Horse, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Billy Idol, Dave Matthews, Ben Harper, and Jill Sobule were also on the bill.
TRACY CHAPMAN SETLIST ON OCTOBER 20, 2001:
01. If Not Now
02. All That You Have Is Your Soul
03. Fast Car
04. At This Point In My Live
05. The Promise
06. Telling Stories
07. Give Me One Reason
TRACY CHAPMAN SETLIST ON OCTOBER 21, 2001:
01. The Maker [duet w/ Dave Matthews] 02. Baby Can I Hold You
03. Mountains O’ Things
04. I’m Ready
05. Fast Car
06. The Promise
07. Stand By Me
08.Give Me One Reason
LISTEN TO “THE MAKER”, Tracy Chapman and Dave Matthew’s duet
Bridge concert a sweet, subdued affair
World events set the tone for Neil Young’s annual school benefit
– Published Monday, October 22, 2001, By Tony Hicks, CONTRA COSTA TIMES / TIME OUT
THE ONE DAY A YEAR when rock stars come to Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre, casting aside egos for charity, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder sprung the warmest moment of them all at Saturday’s Bridge School Benefit.
After an emotional duet on “Indifference” with Ben Harper (who played a powerful solo set earlier in the day), Vedder introduced his favorite Bridge School student from years past, sitting on stage with dozens of other students. Vedder acted a bit jealous after noticing the girl’s enthusiasm during Billy Idol’s earlier set.
“Now Billy Idol is her favorite,” he said, mock-pouting. Then Vedder brightened and proudly announced that the girl got into UC Berkeley since he last saw her. He dedicated her favorite song “Last Kiss” to her, and watched as his band false started and flubbed the beginning.
“She’s a sophomore at UC Berkeley and we can’t even play ‘Last Kiss,’ ” he moaned.
Pearl Jam is more of a regular at Bridge School shows than anyone not named Young. Playing their fifth year — and first performance in more than a year, Vedder said — the band shone brightest among the usual star-studded line-up.
Neil Young and wife Pegi started the benefit in 1986 to help the school for disabled children, attended by his two sons. The show has become one of the most successful and longest-running benefits ever.
Saturday’s show featured outstanding solo sets from Harper and Tracy Chapman, fist-pumping rock from Billy Idol, fan-charged performances from Dave Matthews and R.E.M., winking enthusiasm from Jill Sobule, and an inspired grand finale from Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Shadows from current world affairs hung over the show throughout. Young played “All You Need is Love,” “Blowin’ In the Wind,” and show closer “Imagine” that turned into a huge crowd sing-along, complete with video lyrics. Idol played the old Buffalo Springfield anti-war anthem “For What’s It’s Worth” (which surprisingly did not feature a cameo by Young, the former Buffalo Springfield guitarist).
Sobule played early and eagerly, including a re-worked version of Destiny Child’s “Survivor,” and a jumpy number about commuting by jet pack. Harper then took the stage to quiet his usual mix of funk and rock. He played lap slide guitar like an old bluesman, and took advantage of the acoustic format to let his voice loose on “The Woman in You,” from 1999’s “Burn to Shine.”
Toned down, Harper can sound like Cat Stevens (as he did during a soulful cover of “Sexual Healing”), or rip it up to Lenny Kravitz and beyond. His last note on “The Woman in You” peaked at about 30 continuous seconds, leaving Harper red-faced and the crowd screaming. Billy Idol would be one of the last people someone might expect to shine at an acoustic event. Guitarist and catalyst Steve Stevens is so reliant on special effects and noise-making that comes with electricity, it was debatable whether he even owned an acoustic.
He does. The format just gave Stevens a chance to show off his picking and some frantic double-time strumming. Songs dependent on power chords, like “Eyes Without a Face,” and “White Wedding,” came off just as powerfully, if not a bit altered and fresh. Idol of course, was Idol, jumping around in leather, thrusting fists at the crowd, and charming the kids on stage with his adolescent behavior.
The set was a quick run through Idol’s greatest hits, including “Rock the Cradle,” Got To Be a Lover,” “Sweet 16,” “Rebel Yell,” and “Mony Mony” (with the usual chant encouraging the crowd to get, er, jiggy. It was hard to tell if the kids were singing along to that part).
Chapman was a big shift from the hyperactive Idol. The crowd quieted down, as if to hear every syllable coming out of her mouth as she opened solo with “If Not Now,” from her 1988 self-titled debut. They couldn’t help themselves two songs later, during “Fast Car,” — one of the most gorgeous and compelling songs written during the ’80s. She slowed it down just a tad, delivering every word with a precision not lost on the audience, who sang all the way through.
Chapman gave everyone plenty of space to keep singing along, making the most of a format practically made for her. She ended her set with a Delta Blues version of “Give Me One Reason,” bare bones and slower, again conforming just a bit for the format.
R.E.M. played a straightforward set; the lack of electricity barely changed anything. Singer Michael Stipe sounded good on set-standards “Man on the Moon,” a sedate “The One I Love,” and “Losing My Religion.” R.E.M. displayed a comfortable sound, not fantastic, not embarrassing — mirroring some of their recent records.
Dave Matthews was in the same boat, though he was clearly the crowd favorite of the night. Maybe it was his nervousness going solo that won them over, looking worried and reminding himself to breathe on stage. Like R.E.M., he was solid — not spectacular. But he got good reaction on “Space Between” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
Things perked up for Pearl Jam, who ran through “Long Road,” “Of the Girl,” “Daughter,” “Better Man” and “Drifting” during an outstanding 11-song set. The band is getting more organic as it ages; there was barely anything on Saturday recalling its importance to the grunge scene a decade ago.
If anything, unveiling new songs makes Pearl Jam sound more like Young and other fluid songwriters like Bruce Springsteen. The band is comfortable enough to just show up and play and Young’s request — and excel. The members manage song dynamics masterfully and builds the set to get better as it progresses.
Young and Crazy Horse wrapped it all up, opening with a typically strong versions of “Long May You Run” and “Love and Only Love.” Young set a thoughtful tone, playing Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” then his own “Mideast Vacation” — “When they burned me in effigy, my vacation was complete,” Young sang to scattered laughter. Before playing “Mother Earth on the pump organ, Young admitted that “Every word means something different than it did before.”
They then shelved the typical ending all-star jam for a sedate version of “Imagine,” with Young playing John Lennon’s vocal part on his guitar and allowing the other artists and crowd to sing along. It wasn’t the typical raucous ending, but seemed right for the time and mood.
Singing for peace at Bridge School benefit / Young, R.E.M., Pearl Jam speak to troubled times
– By Neva Chonin, Monday, October 22, 2001, SAN FRANCISCO GATE / CHRONICLE
Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit has always boasted surprises. Still, it’s a safe bet that not even Nostradamus could have predicted the all- star performance that closed Saturday’s concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
At night’s end, the performers — R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Billy Idol, Ben Harper, Tracy Chapman and Jill Sobule — gathered onstage for the traditional group jam. But this was an extraordinary finale for an extraordinary time: Instead of playing, the musicians silently held hands and embraced while the sold-out crowd serenaded them with John Lennon’s paean to pacifism, “Imagine.” Young, wearing a New York Fire Department baseball cap, provided guitar accompaniment as lyrics were projected onto an overhead screen. When the audience reached the final refrain, R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe flashed the peace sign.
This call for tolerance in the midst of war was a courageous gesture and a fitting climax to the benefit’s first night (there was a second concert yesterday). The slogan of the 15th annual fund-raiser for the Bridge School, a Hillsborough nonprofit serving children with speech and physical impairments, was “Free Speech.” Young drove the point home by covering Bob Dylan’s ClearChannel-blacklisted “Blowin’ in the Wind” twice — first in his brief appearance to open the concert and again during his full set at evening’s end. (“Imagine” also made that regrettable list.)
Social commentary turned up in other Bridge sets. Idol, whose rockabilly- and-leather routine was one of the show’s big hits, delivered a furious rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s anti-war anthem “For What It’s Worth.” Pearl Jam denounced “neurotic, psychotic pigheaded politicians” in a cover of Lennon’s “Give
Me Some Truth.” R.E.M. closed with “Losing My Religion,” a song whose title carries new resonance in an era lousy with holy warriors and crusaders.
By injecting some consciousness-raising into their set lists, the Bridge artists reiterated music’s role as a medium of communication. Music can also be fun and enthralling on a gut level, and Saturday’s show offered plenty to satisfy audience members — including Harper’s girlfriend Laura Dern, Sean and Robin Wright Penn and comedian Will Durst — seeking either of those listening experiences.
R.E.M. played a tremendous set marked by sweeping arrangements and Stipe’s playful stage presence. The band shifted between new material (a lush, dramatic “Imitation of Life,” a hushed, emotional “I’ve Been High”) and older favorites (“Cuyahoga,” a bass-heavy “Let Me In” and a hip-swinging “Lotus”).
Despite Eddie Vedder’s apologies for rusty musicianship (all musicians should sound so rusty), Pearl Jam played a compelling array of material highlighted by the always moving “Better Man,” “Drifting,” the country- inflected tune written on a drive back from Young’s Bay Area home and a duet with Harper on “Indifference.” A solo Matthews bemoaned feeling nervous but offered a smooth and seemingly nerve-free roundup of favorites such as “All Along the Watchtower,” “The Space Between” and “Bartender,” as well as a new song and a cover of the dark country classic “Long Black Veil.”
Young’s set had some popular choices — “Long May You Run” and a cover of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” — and one showstopper: a retooled version of 1987’s “Mideast Vacation” that contained the warning “You’ll never be a hero/ Stop sniffin’ that smokin’ gun.”
“It’s hard to know what song to play these days,” Young noted before performing “Mother Earth” on a pump organ. “Every song sounds different. Every word means something different.”
Wise words from a maverick who endures as a musical icon precisely because he’s an iconoclast, one who isn’t afraid to speak his mind or fight for his right to keep on rocking in a free-speech world.
THE BIG TICKET down the Peninsula this weekend was the Bridge School concert, a benefit organized by Neil Young that produces about 20 hours of music over Saturday and Sunday. My hard-working assistant Jenny Pritchett along with The Examiner Period’s Jodi Paper and a few others trucked on down. … Jenny reports from the front, “Young opened the show wearing an FDNY cap, singing ‘Blowin’ In the Wind.’ … Not a crowd pleaser was Jill Sobule, who sickened with a tune about an anorectic. … But then came Ben Harper, who sang a duet with his mom. … REM’s Michael Stipe officiously asked people to turn their cellphones off. Some in the audience took the occasion to go for beer. … During the nine-hour show, the Bridge School students sat on the stage. Enduring they are, and they looked as if they were having a good time. …
“Dave Matthews played wrapped in a long orange scarf. All the performers looked like they were freezing, actually. … Dave brought gorgeous, shy Tracy Chapman out to sing a duet of one of his songs. … Neil came out in a white cowboy hat for a duet with Dave of ‘All Along the Watchtower.’ … Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, with short hair now, started with a version of The Who’s ‘The Kids Are Alright,’ ending the song by changing the last line slightly to ‘These kids are all right,’ and turned around to face the kids behind him. …
“Billy Idol was amazing. He is so well-preserved, and he kicked ass. I thought it was going to be strange to see him, but he rocked. He pumped his fist in the air to ‘Rebel Yell,’ sneered into the cameras, jumped around on stage, ran through the aisles of kids, shook their hands, even jumped offstage to prance up one aisle smacking high-fives while singing and gesticulating. Everyone around me was laughing and screaming for him at the same time — he was ridiculous and knew it and loved it and just rocked. … The big finale was the singing of ‘Imagine’ by the audience and all the performers.” … For some, Jenny, that’s as de rigeur as singing “God Bless America.” And for others, just as cornball. …
Hey, Strange de Jim knows where Osama gets his supplies: Cave-Mart. But of course…
– © The Examiner, Monday Oct 22, 2001
OCTOBER 20, 2001
Order of appearance:
OCTOBER 21, 2001
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