- 02 Dec 14
Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Kanye West were in the supporting cast in World AIDS Day celebration...
It was one of the most remarkable tributes yet to the power of Irish music.
What had been planned as a U2 led celebration of World AIDS Day turned into a tribute to Ireland's finest, as two US Presidents, no less, were joined by Bruce Springsteen and Chris Martin in making a special night of it in New York's Times Square tonight.
The show was opened by former President Bill Clinton, who took up the theme of a statement issued by Bono earlier in the day in asserting that "We are going to win this fight." The former President told how he had received a call from U2 telling him that he had to do the gig. In truth he was only too happy to oblige, introducing the first act of the night - U2 minus one, but with the addition of Chris Martin of Coldplay on vocals. The makeshift outfit launched into 'Beautiful Day' and 'With or Without You', the Coldplay frontman holding the vocals down in a way that would have done - well almost - Bono proud.
Next up was country star Carrie Underwood who performed superbly. Joined onstage by Edge for 'Change' she carried the flag for Nashville impressively, comprehensively burying any perception of country music as a redneck bastion in the process.
Kanye was nothing if not entertaining. He did a medley of his hits, romping through 'Power', 'Jesus Walks', 'Black Skinhead', 'Stronger' and 'Touch The Sky'. There was video advert for RED featuring Bono, along with the likes of Brad Pitt, Julianne Moore, Penelope Cruz, Don Cheadle and Orlando Bloom. And Barack Obama had his say too, making it a night of real, contemporary political import.
And then it was on to the highlight of the occasion. Bruce Springsteen took on the lead singer's role, as U2 powered into a superb version of 'Where The Streets Have No Name'.
Finally, there was time for an emotional 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' with Bruce delivering a wonderfully soulful rendition backed my an enthusiastically, vocal crowd.
There was a final Irish twist too, with the Boss throwing in a reference to Hozier's 'Take Me To Church' - confirming the extent to which the Wicklow songwriter's rise has captured the imagination of rockers across the world.
All told, it was a triumphant night's music that emphasized just how important U2 and the Red organisation have been in the fight against the big disease with the little name.
At last, it is possible to say: this is a fight that we can win. Sleep tight...