Live From the Lincoln Memorial

brucelincoln.jpgBruce Springsteen, "Rising" up with the help of a choir. (Gerard Martineau/TWP)

6:30 p.m. -- Thanks to everyone who followed along with the live Twittering during the concert. It was quite a scene down there. If you decided to stand anywhere but to the left of the Reflecting Pool next the row of port-a-johns ... good call. To make it easier to read, I've copied all the, uh, Tweets, below.

12:12: Cold, possible precipitation, hundreds of thousands of people - one of whom is James Taylor - sounds like an ideal Sunday. Live reports soon

12:53: Best Animal Collective songs to listen to while weaving through slow walkers: "Summertime Clothes" and "Brothersport"

1:33: One of those America is so great and diverse videos is on the jumbotron right now, soundtracked by Wilco, arguably the whitest band around.

1:35: 2008 = Yes we can. 2009 = We can't hear.

1:49: Packt like sardines next to a row of port-a-johns by the reflecting pool. "This is not fun. This is not. Fun," says the woman next to me.

2:03: Climbing on top of port-a-johns. This is not going to end well. At all. Gives a new, literal meaning to {expletive} show.

2:17: Barely enough room to type. Most spots have no view and no sound. Be glad you stayed home.

2:22: Vicious argument by volunteer fire person and a woman in a Depeche Mode hat, nice!

2:35: Obamas and Bidens out for the token waves and pointing at random individuals. HBO seems to have fixed the sound, at least

2:40: Denzel comes out and plays a mean 12-bar blues in the key of C. Nah, he's just talking about everyone being one.

2:42: Brrrrrrrrrrrr(uuuuuuuuuuuuce)!!! He's got soul (patch). I'm jammed next to a port-a-john and can't move but "The Rising" with choir is tops.

2:46: Seriously, adding a backing gospel choir almost always makes a song 29 to 43% better.

2:52: "Prince my god it's Prince!" Actually, it's Mary J Blige. Told you sightlines were rough. "Lean on Me,' official song of the smushed masses.

2:55: 1Steve Carrell and Jamie Foxx say some stuff. Probably about togetherness. Can only hear someone asking how to work a camera.

2:57: Foxx does a pretty spot-on Obama impression. Bettye Lavette and Jon Bon Jovi, together at last!

3:00: Tom Hanks at the podium. Can't hear him. Pretty sure he's saying, "Jenn-ay! Jenn-ay!"

3:05: Highlight so far has been Bettye Lavette, the definition of classic soul. Brisk pace is good, too. But sight and sound still a major problem

3:10: The soothing sounds of James Taylor cause a momentary pause in crowd surges. Thanks, James. John Legend and Jennifer Nettles join him.

3:15: It's been hard to decipher what most speakers are saying. Not Joe Biden. They can probably hear him in Fairfax. He kept it to 2 minutes, too

3:18: John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses" is the first big sing along, for the "ain't that America" chorus. Yes, another choir!

3:25: History lesson with Queen Latifah about Marian Anderson. The crowd is reverently silent. But there was an audible groan for Josh Groban.

3:27: "Let Freedom Ring" is followed by ... Kumar?! It's true.

3:30: Bob Marley's "One Love" isn't an American song but it makes the program anyway, with Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock and non-hologram

3:32: Huge reaction for Obama bobbing his head to "One Love" on the JumboTron.

3:36: Big laughs for a super closeup zoom on opera singer Renee Fleming. The close captioning calls her Renee Nettles. Oops.

3:39: Big cheers for Renee Fleming. They should just use a recording of her for every national anthem at sporting events.

3:42: New biggest singalong - Garth Brooks doing "American Pie." Obama goes with the sideways head bob for this one.

3:44: Garth Brooks doing "Shout"?! Um, ok. Would have been funny to get Jack Black - who just spoke - in a toga to dance around for this one.

3:51: OK, Usher and Shakira are great performers, but if you're doing a Stevie song ("Higher Ground") and Stevie's out there, just let him sing the whole song.

3:54: Person next to me: "God, I love Stevie Wonder." Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

3:59: U2, "Pride (In the Name of Love)" - bad time for the speakers to start going bad. Red lenses for Bono, if you're curious

4:01: Maybe its the bad speaker to my right, but U2 seems off. The crowd seemed much more into Garth Brooks. It's Bonologue time

4:08: An oddly lukewarm mini-set from U2. Now this is just weird - someone carrying a bald eagle on stage. "Is that a real bird?" "Yes it's real!"

4:10: Like every good variety show, you gotta have an animal segment. How can you even follow that? Oh, with the pres-elect, the real rock star.

4:13: "The pool that still reflects the dream of a King." This guy's good.

4:19: Springsteen, Seeger and a choir doing "This Land Is Your Land," of this isn't the concert closer, then someone messed up the program.

4:23: Bruce walks off stage, Pete jogs. He's got some spring in his step! Oh right, Beyonce. "America the Beautiful."

4:25: Beyonce's belting it all right, but Aretha will sound better when she sings something similar on Tuesday.

4:27: Alas, no super collaboration of "Single Ladies" to close things out. Surprisingly well run, no real showstoppers but enough good stuff.

4:35: Very orderly exit. Metro might be a mess, but it's no Nissan Pavilion at least.

By David Malitz |  January 18, 2009; 12:10 PM ET Inauguration
Previous: Coming Attractions | Next: Live Last Night: Songs for Presidents


Please email us to report offensive comments.

These "introductions" by Hollywood are insulting. They think an average person is going to take more stock because Kumar is reading off a teleprompter?

Posted by: NappyHeadedPresident | January 18, 2009 3:46 PM

How did HBO get exclusive rights to broadcast a free concert from the Lincoln Memorial? It's not even on CSpan!

Posted by: belleslettres1 | January 18, 2009 3:56 PM

i agree, weird only could get "free" audio on NPR
and the visual was only available to paying HBO patrons for a public people's concert

and I did enjoy the audio on NPR and was disappointed I could not "see" the concert

Posted by: mettamega | January 18, 2009 4:42 PM

I am so disappointed and really, now that I think about it, outraged that we did not get to see the "show". MSNBC and CNN had been promoting the show for days, at least since yesterday. Over and over we heard who was going to be entertaining us. "Oh, and Stevie Wonder is going to be there." And so and so will be there for Barack Obama and America. Then just before the show was to start. "We will not be showing, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, et al. due to contractual agreement with @#$@#$%. How disappointing.

But my heart and soul are still soaring over my President, Barack Obama.

Posted by: EthelKelly | January 18, 2009 4:54 PM

but HBO was telling their providers to show it for free there is a replay at 7pm and 11:30pm

Posted by: kvwren | January 18, 2009 5:17 PM

HBO made the feed available free to cable companies that wanted to show it. I don't subscribe to HBO, but the channel snapped to life just as the concert started and shut off right after.

Don't know whether broadcast networks were allowed to pick it up, but if it wasn't available on your cable system, it's the cable company's fault, not HBO.

Posted by: airsix | January 18, 2009 5:20 PM

Although I would have liked to have seen the concert, my original point was who was HBO purchasing air rights from--this was a free concert occuring on federal property.

Posted by: belleslettres1 | January 18, 2009 6:31 PM

I found the whole thing absolutely wonderful. Thanks to HBO for the free shows and to everyone who performed for doing such an inspiring job! Go Obama and America!

Posted by: nellie3ster | January 18, 2009 6:38 PM

I moved from the right - crowds, trees, no visibility or sound to the left of the Lincoln- up front- I could see and hear on the Jumbotron. I thought Biden's speech and the eagles were both odd. Shakira could have worn something else(or doesn't she own any respectable clothing)

Posted by: silverspring25 | January 18, 2009 7:52 PM

It was fantastic - sounds like it was too crowded in the secure area. Should have stayed just outside - brilliant view of the jumbotrons with the Memorial in the background, not too packed to be uncomfortable but busy enough to get the full atmosphere. Yeah!

Posted by: plattyaj | January 18, 2009 7:58 PM

I was able to see the whole concert free on cable - it was on a local-access channel in my area. For the first twenty minutes, the speeches were translated into Spanish, so I muted it and listened on public radio (though the radio broadcast was delayed about twenty seconds). Not sure why that was happening; after that everything was in English and the broadcast was great. I thought it was pretty well publicized that HBO was going to show it free.

I thought the whole concert was wonderful. U2 sounded and looked great on TV. The Garth Brooks section was odd (American Pie and Shout?) - unexpected, but both sounded great. What a thrill to see Pete Seeger! And great American songs. John Mellencamp,, Sheryl Crow, everybody was good. Such excitement and enthusiasm all around - I can't wait for Tuesday.

Posted by: kathyinminnesota | January 18, 2009 9:06 PM

You like Animal Collective and trash Wilco, David. You are so cool it makes my heart skip and go bump.

Posted by: coupland12 | January 18, 2009 9:17 PM

HBO is showing a video of the concert on its website at 7 ET and again at 11 ET. I watched it from the West Coast at 4 p.m.
That softened a bit how annoyed I was that only HBO carried it.

Posted by: shininglight | January 18, 2009 9:35 PM

I think they thought it would be better to have HBO foot the bill rather than taxpayers. New kind of creative thinking I appreciate, but I too am SOOOO bummed I missed it on HBO and the rebroadcast too and I missed it on NPR too(was listening to CSPAN rebroadcast of SUnday a.m. talk shows...not knowing that HBO/NPR had exclusive rights... hopefully it will be available to all at somepoint...

Posted by: sgoewey | January 18, 2009 9:55 PM

Taxpayers do not fund Cspan,sgoeway--cable companies do, back when the FCC tried to make cable companies responsible for their use of the public airways.

Posted by: belleslettres1 | January 19, 2009 9:20 AM

Comcast in Venice, FL chose NOT to allow their non-HBO subscribers to see the concert. I wonder how many cable companies provided the feed to non-HBO cable subscribers???
After finding out it wasn't on my cable, the cable company had a recording on their support/trouble site to go to So it seems they didn't plan to serve us with the live feed!!! Missed about 30 min with these issues. Thank goodness showed it several times!!

Posted by: nancymundorf | January 19, 2009 2:57 PM

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