U2 frontman Bono got political at the ‘We Are One’ Obama Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC today (January 18).
Approximately half-a-million people braved freezing temperatures in the American capitol to watch the event that kicks off four days of inauguration festivities and featured performers including Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige and Stevie Wonder, as previously reported.
The event culminated with a two-song performance by U2. When taking the stage, Bono said, “Let freedom ring. On this spot where we’re standing 46 years ago Dr King had a dream. On Tuesday, that dream comes to pass,” before launching into ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’, U2‘s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Bono added that Obama‘s election is “not just an American dream but also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream and also a Palestinian dream”.
U2 then segued into ‘City Of Blinding Lights’. “What a thrill for four Irish boys from the north side of Dublin to honour you sir, Barack Obama, to be the next president of the United States,” Bono said to the president-elect, who watched from the front row.
Earlier in the afternoon, will.i.am, Sheryl Crow and Herbie Hancock performed Bob Marley‘s ‘One Love (People Get Ready)’, and James Taylor was joined by John Legend and Jennifer Nettles for Taylor‘s song ‘Shower The People’.
John Cougar sang his all-American tune ‘Little Pink Houses’ backed by a gospel choir, and Stevie Wonder, Usher and Shakira performed Wonder‘s ‘Higher Ground’ for the all-ages crowd.
After opening the concert with ‘The Rising’, Springsteen returned later in the afternoon with folk-music legend Pete Seeger to perform Woody Guthrie‘s famous folk song ‘This Land Is Your Land’ accompanied by a children’s choir.
Beyonce closed out the performances, singing ‘America The Beautiful’ alongside several of the event performers for the grand finale.
US president-elect Obama delivered a brief speech at the end of the event. “I want to thank today’s speakers and performers for reminding us through song and word what it is we love about America,” he said.
After thanking the crowd for braving the cold, Obama added, “Americans of every race, creed and station came here because you believe in what America can be and you can help us get there. If we can recognise ourselves in one another…no obstacle can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.”
Obama‘s inauguration as the 44th president of the United States is set to take place in Washington DC on Tuesday (January 20). Stay tuned to NME.COM for extensive coverage of the inaugural musical events throughout the week.
–By our Los Angeles staff.