Kennedy Center Honors Weekend

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2022-12-05)

It’s been a busy weekend for U2.

On Saturday there was a honoree luncheon at the Kennedy Center. Bono did not attend the luncheon, but the other three members of the band were present. Saturday evening a State Department dinner was held, and medallion presentations were made to all of the honorees. The entire band were on hand for the presentation of medallions.

Last night was the actual awards ceremony, and all four members of U2 were in attendance. First, President Joe Biden introduced all of the nominees with a short speech about each, which can be watched above.

Later in the evening was a performance, where each nominee was honored with performances by other artists covering their work. For U2, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam took the stage, performing both “Elevation” and “One”. Then Brandi Carlile, Jamala and Hozier took the stage and closed the evening with a performance of U2’s “Walk On”. Jamala is a performer from Ukraine, and spoke about U2’s social activism before the final song. “It’s becoming that on the night meant to honor them, they’ve once more used their platform to share a message of peace. Actually to be here on this night is extraordinary for me, when there is a lot of darkness in my home nation of Ukraine”. Part of the U2 presentation included an appearance by comedian Sascha Baron Cohen, in his Borat persona. (Bono made an appearance in another Cohen film, Bruno)

Ahead of the musical performances a video presentation played featuring U2 honored by Beyonce, Harry Styles, Finneas and Billie Eilish. Each spoke U2 lyrics on screen while video footage showed video of U2 performing as well as a look into U2’s activism through video clips. The video ended with Bono speaking saying “good night, thanks for giving us a good life”.

The spoken pieces in the video that introduced the band included:

  • Beyonce “I Will Follow”
  • Harry Styles “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
  • Finneas “11 O’Clock Tick Tock”
  • Billie Eilish “Pride”
  • Finneas “Where the Streets Have No Name”
  • Billie Eilish “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For”
  • Finneas “Miss Sarajevo”
  • Harry Styles and Billie Eilish “Beautiful Day”
  • Beyonce “City of Blinding Lights”
  • Finneas “Get Out of Your Own Way”
  • All “Love is All We Have Left”

Behind the spoken lyrics was a mix of music featuring U2’s own performances of these songs.

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The annual Kennedy Center Honors gala and awards celebrate the “international standard of excellence set by America’s artists, as well as the aesthetic inspiration provided by artists of other nations who have achieved prominence on these shores.” The award recognizes living individuals who have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts. The Honors will be aired on television on December 28 on CBS and Paramount Plus. U2 is one of five honorees for The Kennedy Center Honors, joining actor George Clooney, singer Amy Grant, conductor and educator Tania Leon, and singer Gladys Knight.

They join international musicians Joni Mitchell, Sting, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, The Who, Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti and others as past honorees. The awards have celebrated a wealth of talent through the years including musicians, actors, writers and artists. U2 collaborators receiving the award in the past include Frank Sinatra (1983), Ray Charles (1986), B.B. King (1995), Johnny Cash (1996), Bob Dylan (1997), Willie Nelson (1998), Stevie Wonder (1999), Quincy Jones (2001), Luciano Pavarotti (2001), Elton John (2004), Tina Turner (2005), Tony Bennett (2005), Bruce Springsteen (2009), and Paul McCartney (2010).

The entire gala from last night will be aired on December 28 on CBS television and Paramount Plus.

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