Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder stepped in for an ailing Mary J. Blige last night (Dec. 3) at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., performing “Elevation” and “One” in tribute to U2, who were recognized alongside George Clooney, Gladys Knight, Amy Grant, and Cuban composer Tania León. The ceremony will be broadcast Dec. 28 by CBS.
Vedder has long been close with the members of U2 since Pearl Jam opened a run of shows for the Irish rock legends in the summer of 1993. He has also previously performed at Kennedy Center ceremonies in recognition of Bruce Springsteen and David Letterman.
The event also boasted appearances by Brandi Carlile and Ukranian singer Jamala on U2’s “Walk On,” Garth Brooks, Mickey Guyton, Ariana DeBose, and Patti LaBelle during the multi-song Knight tribute, and Sheryl Crow and BeBe and CeCe Winans on behalf of Grant.
Per reports, the segment generating the most buzz came from Sacha Baron Cohen in character as clueless Eastern European journalist Borat, who at first chided U2 for its 2014 iTunes album stunt, and went on to address Kanye West’s recent anti-semitic rants as well as Borat’s confusion over why President Joe Biden doesn’t have the “glorious big belly” and “pretty orange skin” of his predecessor.
Besides the Bidens, the event was attended by Vice President Kamala Harris, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Julia Roberts, and Katie Couric.