Bono electrified the crowd on Friday night for Nile Rodgers’ We Are Family Foundation’s Annual Gala at the Manhattan Center in New York. The U2 frontman, who was awarded the charity’s Humanitarian Award, belted out “Pride (In the Name of Love),” and “Beautiful Day” at the Hammerstein Ballroom event.
He then finished his set with “Mysterious Ways” before making a grand exit — vaulting off the stage, snaking his way through the crowd like an Irish Pied Piper and exiting through the front doors. In a heartfelt speech, the 55-year-old singer lauded the night’s other big name honoree, former president Jimmy Carter.
“As a teenager I began to hear about this poetic figure who was running for President of the United States,” he said. “[Carter] quoted Bob Dylan, who was at that time the actual president of the United States, my United States.”
Bono, an outspoken Christian, praised Carter for his beliefs. He recalled when Carter was asked where his moral compass came from and said, “he didn’t quote an economist or philosopher or a pollster or pundit. He cited the Holy Scriptures. The most powerful man in the world humbled himself to submit to a higher power.”
Bono mentioned that U2 bandmate the Edge is a huge Rodgers fan and would have loved to have jammed on stage with the Chic guitarist, but had another gig which he couldn’t step away from. The gig in question was playing in the Sistine Chapel for the Pope.
“I said, ‘I’m doing a gig at the Hammerstein Ballroom and we’re going to turn it into the Cathedral that it has been over the years for rock and roll music and hip hop and dance music and I am with the groove pope (Rodgers),’ to which the Edge had nothing to say,” Bono recited to the delight of the audience.
After Bono’s spirited set, the man of the hour, Rodgers had brought the crowd to its feet as he and Chic performed hits like “Le Freak,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “Everybody Dance” and of course “We are Family.”
The evening, which was hosted by Soledad O’Brien, raised over $1 million which included a $100,000 bid for the guitar Rodgers played at this year’s Grammys.