5 Must-See Moments From Bill Clinton’s All-Star Benefit Concert
Lada Gaga drops f-bomb in front of an ex-president, Usher rips his pants
Bill Clinton’s nonprofit group held a 10th anniversary celebration on Saturday night at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl that doubled as the former president’s 65th birthday party. Clinton, wife Hillary, and daughter Chelsea had front-row seats as Lady Gaga, U2’s Bono and the Edge, Usher, and unannounced guest Stevie Wonder performed at “A Decade a Difference: A Concert Celebrating 10 Years of the William J. Clinton Foundation.” The list of performers also included Colombian rocker Juanes, country star Kenny Chesney, and Somali-born rapper K’naan. SPIN helpfully compiled the five moments that count as essential viewing:
1. Stevie Wonder’s surprise appearance3
The soul legend wasn’t on the formally announced bill for “A Decade of Difference,” but he was the first to sing, perched at his piano in a black-and-red suit. The former president could be seen wiping his eyes after a funky rendition of “Sir Duke” that was as flawless as the 1976 Songs in the Key of Life original.
2. Usher’s wardrobe malfunction
No concert of this scale could go off snag-free, could it? Usher marvelously covered the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” in the style of Joe Cocker — whose version is unconscionably absent from the long-overdue Netflix instant stream of The Wonder Years — and then went into his own hits “Yeah!” and “OMG.” The R&B singer didn’t get through his set, however, without splitting his pants. “I work hard,” he offered nonchalantly. We know, Ush, it’s cool.
3. Clinton’s cameo-stacked “Funny or Die” video
The event wasn’t all singing, dancing, and emotional tributes. Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Kevin Spacey, Ted Danson, and Mary Steenburgen appeared in a goofy “Funny or Die” clip, with Clinton himself stealing the show. OK, there was some singing: Jack Black honored “A Decade of Difference” as literally as possible.
4. Lady Gaga’s f-bombing “Marilyn Monroe moment”
When not changing her lyrics to refer to “Billary,” as she dubbed the former first couple, Gaga gave Clinton what she called “my first Marilyn Monroe moment” — and she probably became the rare person in public to say “fuck” in front of a former president. Wearing a platinum-blonde wig, Gaga squeezed “Happy Birthday” into the beginning of “Born This Way.” Later, after “The Edge of Glory” and “Bad Romance” but before “Yoü and I,” she declared, “If someone had told me so many years ago that I’d be doing that right in front of you I just would not believe. I would have given a good American ‘fuck you.’ ” Clinton told the audience he’d been warned in advance about the “Marilyn moment,” saying, “I thought, ‘My God, I get Lady Gaga and I will have a heart attack celebrating my 65th birthday.’ ” You’ve survived worse, Bill.
5. Bono and the Edge’s Irish salute
U2’s frontman lauded the former president for his role in the Irish peace process. In an acoustic set that also included “Desire,” “One,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and, with orchestral accompaniment, “Miss Sarajevo,” Bono and the Edge brought a tearful Clinton up onstage for “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Said Bono, “When Edge and I think of all the reasons we might want to be here in the Hollywood Bowl, the Clinton Foundation would be enough. But right on top of the list… is that we live in a country now that is largely and truly at peace — north and south — because of the intercession of the 43rd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. He is by far the most beloved American since JFK for all of us Irish.”