Friday, January 30, 2009


Live Review: Lincoln Memorial Concert and Big Shoulders Ball

As you probably know by now, the first official event of Barack Obama's inauguration took place Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Perhaps you know that Springsteen and U2 played, that Joe Biden yelled into his microphone, or that Beyoncé closed out the show with the national anthem. What you may not know, however, is that the more than half a million concertgoers endured bone-chilling cold and crowded Metro cars to get there. We stood in seemingly infinite lines to get our bags searched, then pushed our way up as close to the jumbo screens as we could. For most people there, the wait for the Lincoln Memorial Concert was longer than the concert itself, which was two hours of performances and solemn speeches that had more in common with back-patting awards show than with a political or musical event.

For most of us, the performers were only visible from the jumbo screens scattered across the park, and the music reverberated loudly off the frozen Reflecting Pool, creating a delayed report nearly as loud as the music. Yet, because of the excitement in the air and the significance of the setting and the caliber of the performers, it was hard not to be entertained, if not exactly charmed or impressed. The past eight years have taught us to be suspicious of such pious displays of patriotism, but perhaps due to Obama's grassroots appeal, the concert seemed at times like a collective sigh of relief, a pinch on the arm to make sure yes, this is really happening. >>MORE

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