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The gala, which takes place yearly in the US, celebrates achievements in the arts and culture.
U2 were honourees on the night and was meant to be celebrated with a performance from Mary J. Blige. However, Blige was unable to perform due to illness, which saw Vedder step in to honour the band instead.
During the ceremony, Vedder sang U2’s ‘Elevation’ and ‘One’, while Ukrainian singer Jamala joined Brandi Carlile and others to sing U2’s ‘Walk On.’
You can see Vedder’s tribute to U2 here:
At the event, US President Joe Biden thanked U2 for “the way you uplift people”.
Biden began: “From this Irish American president in a White House designed by Irish hands, thank you for all you have done and the way you lift people up.
“To see each other, to see ourselves in one another, to unite in common cause – tonight we celebrate a truly exceptional…group of artists.”
Biden went on to quote lyrics from U2’s 1992 track ‘One’ and said of the single: “At a moment we would do well to remember when there is too much hate, too much division and too much anger in America and, quite frankly, around the world, as [U2’s] song goes: ‘We are one, we are not the same, we get to carry each other.'”
During the ceremony, the comedian poked fun at the US president’s predecessor, while also taking aim at Kanye West and antisemitism.
Talking to the audience, Borat quipped (via The Guardian): “I know the president of US and A is here. Where are you, Mr Trump?”
He then added to Biden: “You don’t look so good. Where has your glorious big belly gone? And your pretty orange skin has become pale,” before asking whether Vladimir Putin and nerve agent Novichok were responsible.
“But I see you have a new wife. Wawawoooah! She is very erotic. I must look away before I get a Bono,” he added of Biden’s wife Jill, joking in reference to Kennedy honourees U2.