"It's more personal because literally the Jersey Shore is where we grew up ... but we'd be here anyway," he said. "You don't see oil companies here, you don't see insurance companies here, the Wall Street guys, with all due respect, they're not waiting in line to help anybody, so we're here."
The sold-out show was televised live, streamed online, played on the radio and shown in theaters all over the world. Producers said up to 2 billion people were able to experience it live.
But the night wasn't all serious: Comedy helped break up the weightiness of Sandy's devastation, including jokes from Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert and Adam Sandler, who performed a hilarious parody of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Even Coldplay's Chris Martin brought on the jokes.
"I know you really wanted One Direction," Martin said of the popular British boy band. "But it's way past their bedtime."
Martin was joined onstage by Michael Stipe, as they sang R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." And there was another collaboration with Roger Waters and Eddie Vedder on "Comfortably Numb."
The participants, many natives of the area and others who know it well, struck a defiant tone in asking for help to rebuild sections of the New York metropolitan area devastated by the storm. About half of the performers were British.
"This has got to be the largest collection of old English musicians ever assembled in Madison Square Garden," said Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, who performed two songs. "If it rains in London, you've got to come and help us."
Waters, who has lived in New York for 11 years, said "there's a great feeling of camaraderie" backstage and that he's excited he could help those who are suffering.