The William J. Clinton Foundation's Decade of Difference Concert went off without a snag, no small feat, given the number of surprises throughout the night.
One of the most memorable moments came at the very end of the night. For their last song, following a brief break, Bono and The Edge sang “Miss Sarajevo,” a tune that Bono has called his favorite U2 song. In the original version, the late opera legend Luciano Pavarotti had a guest appearance. During the Clinton Concert, Bono sung the Pavarotti part himself. For a rock star to sing opera is a bold move. But, hey, Bono’s a bold guy.
[ Video: Watch the concert in its entirety ]
The concert got funky right off the bat with surprise guest Stevie Wonder performing "Sir Duke" for the crowd at the Hollywood Bowl. The performance moved the famously weepy Clinton to tears (of happiness, we assume). Stevie spoke with the crowd and said Bill specifically requested his second tune, "For Once in My Life." Both President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were rocking out and grinning ear to ear, not the last time they'd be seen doing that during the night. Stevie closed with "Superstitious," a classic tune that he got the crowd to join in without much trouble.
After a performance by country superstar Kenny Chesney, Somalia-born hip-hop star K'naan performed a set of songs, starting off with "Bullet Proof Pride." On the third verse he was joined by U2 frontman Bono. The crowd rose to its feet. Bono flashed a peace sign and left the stage (but he would return). K'naan raised the roof when he performed "Wavin' Flag," getting the crowd into it and shaking hands with the President and Secretary of State midperformance.
Following K'naan's set, actress Maria Bello introduced Colombian rocker Juanes, who rocked the stage and looked pretty darn cool while doing it.
Usher then took the stand and performed a trio of tracks, starting out with the Joe Cocker-inspired version of the Beatles classic (and theme song to "The Wonder Years") "With a Little Help From My Friends." It was a clear break from his usual type of tunes, but not surprisingly, Usher pulled it off. The guy's a pro.
And then, just when you thought wardrobe malfunctions were a thing of the past, the R&B superstar accidentally split his pants down the left leg while singing "OMG." Not one to miss a beat, the singer had a smooth recovery, even making light of the unplanned split. He donned his shades, pointed to the growing hole, and said with a smile, "I work hard."
Ellen DeGeneres was next on stage, saying "Our next performer needs no introduction," and then promptly left the stage, because, hey, Lady Gaga doesn't need an introduction. The superstar opened her set with "Born This Way" and then said, "I wish you were playing sax with me tonight, baby." The quip drew a big laugh from both Bill and Hillary.
The singer drew more laughs and applause when she sang "Bad Romance," while changing the lyrics to "Bill Romance." It was ridiculous, hilarious, and justifiably turned the spotlight squarely on the man of the hour. Chelsea Clinton, seated next to her dad, covered her face in happiness and embarrassment.
After a short intermission, Chelsea Clinton introduced her father, President Bill Clinton, who gave a speech full of thanks and joked that he was worried about having a heart attack when Lady Gaga performed. In an especially poignant moment, he thanked his wife Hillary Clinton, who he met 40 years ago and who was organizing the public "before it was cool."
It's not easy to follow President Clinton, but Bono and The Edge of U2 did just that. The pair performed a series of songs, including the hit tune, "One." Accompanied by a string orchestra, Bono and The Edge even altered a few lyrics to wish the president a very happy birthday. Clinton took the stage and thanked Bono and The Edge for all their help and all they do to help make the world a better place to live.
- Stevie Wonder
- William J. Clinton Foundation