Bruce Springsteen performed with U2 in place of injured Bono at the World AIDS Day benefit concert, in New York City’s, Times Square Monday night. Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Kanye West, Carrie Underwood, and former U.S. president Bill Clinton also made appearances and performed.
On a rainy and cold December night, thousands of people were jam-packed in Times Square in anticipation of U2’s free benefit performance. The benefit was originally scheduled as regular gig; however, Bono sustained a serious bike injury in Central Park in November and couldn’t take the stage with his band members.
Instead of canceling the event, U2 contacted Bruce Springsteen, Chris Martin, Carrie Underwood, and Kanye West and asked them to perform in place of Bono at this free World AIDS Day benefit concert in the heart of New York City.
U2 announced the performers on their website five hours before showtime. The band called themselves U2 minus 1.
Bono released a statement about the benefit concert and how Americans play a predominant role in helping to fight AIDS around the world.
“This year is a World AIDS Day like no other. The world reached a tipping point in the fight against AIDS – more people were newly added to life-saving treatment than were newly infected with the virus. A lot of people are calling it the beginning of the end of AIDS. We wouldn’t be at this point without American leadership, people from the left and the right. Today, 13 million people have access to life-saving treatment, up from 300,000 just over ten years ago. Americans don’t know the role they’ve played in this fight. Tonight’s event is to inform them and thank them.”
Before the concert began, former U.S. president Bill Clinton gave a short speech.
“You only have a minute and a half of halfway-serious talk and then it’s all fun.”
After Clinton got the attention of the crowd, he read an e-mail Bono sent him earlier that day.
The crowd cheered and Clinton closed with this line.
“We’re going to win this fight.”
Coldplay’s Chris Martin followed Clinton wearing a black shirt that read Substitute. Martin and the band started with “Beautiful Day,” wrapping up with U2’s “With or Without You.”
Martin had this to say about the performance.
“Dreams come true for young and old people alike.”
The Edge picked up another guitar while U2 band members, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton walked off stage. Carrie Underwood and her band set up their gear and joined The Edge to perform “Change” and “Something in the Water.”
Kanye West followed with an electric medley of “Power,” “Jesus Walks,” “Black Skinhead,” “Stronger” and “Touch the Sky.”
The Irish rock band members from Dublin, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton and The Edge, started playing “Where the Streets Have No Name” but there was no sign of Bono. To the astonishment of the crowd, Bruce Springsteen walked onstage wearing a black leather jacket and started performing with the band.
Rolling Stone reports Bruce Springsteen sang with great confidence.
“I want to run! I want to hide. I want to tear down these walls…”
Bruce Springsteen and U2 were the final act. Springsteen and U2 could have entertained the crowd a couple of hours, but their headlining set lasted only two songs. “Where the Streets Have No Name,” was followed by “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Springsteen looked as though he really enjoyed performing with the band. The crowd sang along with the band as Springsteen pointed his microphone over the crowd. The cold December rain started pouring down, but people didn’t start to leave until all the performers came out for a final bow.
Bruce Springsteen and U2 performed before at two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame events. Chalk this one up as another Springsteen and U2 performance even though it was minus one.