Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rock on

Babies who rock
Bono and The Boss make way for PEBO
Louis and chums 
Mom and son

It wasn't exactly a Woodstock '69 moment, but, should he choose, Louis will be able to claim some sort of future bragging rights about the 2009 Inaugural Concert because, bwb fans, he was there. Along with Barack, Bono, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and plenty of other rock stars and Hollywood celebs whose names didn't start with the letter B. The backdrop was the Lincoln Memorial, site of the "I have a Dream" speech and countless other American epic moments, including, fittingly, the 1939 concert by Marian Anderson, the black opera singer barred from singing to a white audience at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

The security forces used the event as a test run for Tuesday, blocking the streets with desert-ready Humvees. Swarms of soldiers stood guard barking orders to concert go-ers who streamed in to bag a spot near the stage from as early as 8am. (Some six or so hours before kick off.) We opted not to queue (do Americans say "line"?) to get into the "secure zone" around the Reflecting Pool and instead hit the Mall slightly further back in front of the Washington Monument. We hit concert gold by scoring a spot on the mound with a view of Lincoln as well as three Jumbotrons (giant tellys). (We were 9 in all: three sets of parents plus babies.) 

Louis was Michelin-ed up to the max (thanks to my godson) and managed to stay warm despite a slight lack of danceable tunes. Instead, the concert was peppered with historical interludes courtesy of Forest Whitaker, Samuel L Jackson, Tiger Woods and a host of other black A-listers. The music spanned all genres, from folk and country to gospel and hip-hop: the programme aimed to appeal to the broad church of concert go-ers who braved the freezing temperatures to attend PEBO's last rally before taking the helm of the free world. 

Don't tell Bono or the Boss, but PEBO himself was actually the main draw for the vast bulk of the crowd, decked out in Obamabelia as they were. I guess we could say we saw him take the stage, although I won't try to claim he was much bigger than a speck. He brushed up well on the Jumbotrons, however. Louis seemed to concur with those commentators who are still waiting for Obama's JFK speech moment, snoozing through his assertion that: "Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible." But plenty of other spectators were more visibly moved, breaking into "Yes we can" and "Si se puede" chants. 

I guess Louis's waiting for that inaugural address on Tuesday. Along with the 1 million-plus people who have flocked to DC for the big day. 

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