It was a star-studded night Tuesday at Carnegie Hall, as U2’s Bono celebrated 10 years of work from his charity organizations ONE and (RED) by taking the stage with other activist celebrities.
Bono kicked off the event, which took place on World AIDS Day, by addressing the audience: “This is not a charity concert… This is a celebration.” Hosted by Trevor Noah, the night showcased sets from major performers like Miley Cyrus, Hozier, and U2’s The Edge, and appearances from Bill Clinton, Stephen Colbert, and Joe Biden, who honored notable individuals working towards social change.
Jessie J was the first artist to take the stage, and performed “Who You Are,” from her 2011 debut album. She then paid homage to Prince by performing a soulful rendition of his 1984 classic, “Purple Rain.”
Next came Hozier, who followed Jessie J’s R&B set with folksy blues. The Irish singer picked at his guitar to cover the old Skip James song “Illinois Blues.” Afterwards, he ditched the strings to perform his most well-known song, “Take Me To Church.” Hozier then welcomed Bono and The Edge to the stage, where the three of them played U2’s song “When Love Comes To Town” from the band’s 1988 album, Rattle and Hum.
To no one’s surprise, Miley Cyrus was the most visually stimulating artist of the night. She took to the stage in a pink suit covered in glitter and sang songs from her latest album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, opening with “Evil Is But A Shadow” followed by a floor-stomping performance of “1 Sun.” Cyrus also showed off her piano skills with the emotional balled “Pablo the Blowfish.” Like her recent Saturday Night Live performance, Cyrus finished the song in tears.
“I’ve never gotten through that song without crying — not once,” Cyrus admitted. She ended by performing a new song she had recently written, confessing that she would need to read the lyrics off her phone. The song was a country ballad inspired by a close friend who had lost someone they loved. Cyrus sang the soft, somber chorus, “How can I miss you so much even thought you’re right here?”
Finally, Bono and The Edge took to the stage to perform some U2 classics. They opened with “Every Breaking Wave,” which featured soaring vocals from Bono. The orchestra then picked up as the pair launched into “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” when the audience danced and sang along for the first time that night. The crowd stayed on their feet during “Angel of Harlem” before Bono and The Edge ended with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
To close out the night, Bono and The Edge ran through “One,” an appropriate track for the event as it was released as a benefit single with all proceeds going to AIDS research. Jessie J came out to sing the seconds verse, followed by Miley Cyrus who was clearly meant to sing the third verse, but seemed to be having technical difficulties. This was the one snafu of the night, as Cyrus fiddled with her earpiece without singing her part, forcing Bono to jump in. But in the theme of the night, the star-studded lineup finished together, closing down the night with good vibes.