Bono may yet one day win the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts, but the ceremony will be hard-pressed to top the tribute that he received last night at the Hollywood’s new Kodak Theater, where the Entertainment Industry Foundation presented Bono with their Humanitarian of the Year award at the first annual “Love Rocks” benefit.
Before a diverse, star-studded audience — including Sean Penn, Sylvester Stallone, Shannon Elizabeth, Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra — No Doubt, R.E.M., Lauryn Hill and Res paid musical tribute to the U2 frontman. Kevin Spacey, Tom Cruise, Drew Carey and Ray Romano were among those who took the stage to pay their respects/trade jokes.
After being introduced by Cruise — who said, “How do you give a speech about a guy who can give a toast as eloquent as the Gettysburg Address, and as long?” — the never-shy Bono admitted to being a bit unnerved by the spectacle (which also included videotaped tributes from Bill Clinton and Mick Jagger). He quickly settled down though, and gave a stirring ten-minute acceptance speech, citing the various causes he’s involved in, from erasing Third World debt to finding a way to curtail the staggering number of AIDS cases in Africa. He also joked about his reputation as a serious guy, saying, “The right to be ridiculous is something I hold very dear.” There was nothing ridiculous though about the impassioned plea he made to the audience to expand the “American dream” and make their voices heard to the politicians.
Res kicked off the night with a lovely rendition of “My Funny Valentine.” No Doubt was next, and, after crowd-pleasing renditions of “Simple Life” and “Hey, Baby,” they got into the spirit of the night with a cover of U2’s “Sweetest Thing.” Lauryn Hill went the troubadour route, doing stunning solo acoustic versions of two new songs, including “Social Drugs.”
A fired-up R.E.M. book-ended Bono’s speech, performing “Cinnamon,” a rousing “Losing My Religion,” and “I Got You, Babe” (with special guest Cher!). They closed with U2’s “One,” during which Bono took the stage, joined arms with Michael Stipe and sang along. When the song ended, Bono kissed Stipe on the cheek.
“The next step from beatification is crucifixion,” Bono quipped. “So I guess I should enjoy this while I can.”