Kanye West, Carrie Underwood, Chris Martin, and Bruce Springsteen played a surprise concert in Times Square last night in honor of World AIDS Day. The performance, orchestrated by (RED) founder Bono and presented by (Bank of America)RED, was “A (RED) Thank You” to America for its leadership in the fight against AIDS.
Uninhibited by the rainy weather, over 15,000 fans — who had heard about the concert that afternoon through U2’s website and social media accounts — packed into New York’s Times Square for an unforgettable gathering of legendary artists. Chris Martin, appropriately wearing a “SubstitU2” t-shirt, opened alongside U2 members Adam Clayton, The Edge, and Larry Mullen Jr. Martin took Bono’s place as lead singer while Bono continues to recuperate from his bicycle accident earlier this month. The “U2 Minus 1” band played staples “Beautiful Day” and “With Or Without You.”
Carrie Underwood and her band powered through “Change” from her 2009 album Play On and “Something In The Water,” her 2014 single. The pregnant “reigning queen of country” glowed on stage, showcasing her vocal mastery. Kanye West took the stage next, performing hits “Power,” “Jesus Walks,” “Stronger,” and “Touch The Sky” to a hysterical crowd. After the last song, West dropped the mic and coolly walked off the stage, leaving his fans in awe.
U2 Minus 1 reclaimed the stage for the finale. They were joined by Bruce Springsteen, who had previously been watching the concert from the sidelines. Springsteen’s iconic voice brought life to “Where The Streets Have No Name” and “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” The all-American legend’s performance provided just the right close to the concert’s “Thank you, America.”
Though the concert was timed with World AIDS Day, it was also a celebration. In 2013, the number of people receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS eclipsed the number of people diagnosed with the disease. This feat, the first major one in about a decade, gives hope that the world will see AIDS-free generations in the years to come. Former president Bill Clinton delivered the introduction to the performance, noting that he had been asked by Bono himself earlier that day to do so. Special messages from President Obama and Bono played on the surrounding billboards between performances, and (Bank of America)RED announced that it will be donating another $3 million, making its total donations to the foundation this year $10 million.
The (RED) concert was just one of the many events that took place to support and raise money for the (RED) foundation.The entire concert was broadcast live on YouTube, radio stations across the country — including iHeart Radio, which became iHeart(RED) in honor of the day, and ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown. Stream the concert on YouTube below!
[Photo: Getty Images]