More than a dozen stars took the stage for the nearly three-hour show, delighting service members and fans lining the Mall for the free event. The concert ended by 9:50 p.m., and fans cleared the area with little to no reported issues.
Take a look at some of the highlights from the night. For more, look at our photos here.
Jennifer Hudson sings a powerful version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
Rihanna dances to the music during her set. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)
Bruce Springsteen performs an acoustic set during the concert. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Metallica’s James Hetfield interacts with the service members behind him during the band’s set. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Concert attendee Justin Wilson enjoys a performance by Metallica. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Carrie Underwood performs with the Singing Sergeants of the U.S. Air Force Band. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Army service member Kelsey Levesque, left, holds Taylor Mercier during the concert. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
George Washington University student Mohamed Sidibay smiles as Eminem performs. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
Between “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the sonic assault of Metallica,”The Concert for Valor” smartly didn’t rely on performers to deliver canned messages to the veterans.
Instead, in pre-taped messages from high-profile celebrities including Oprah, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, as well as the president and first lady, the concert offered recognition to a handful of select veterans, each of whom was revealed to be in the audience. Concert organizers reserved select seating for members of the military.
According to The Capital Weather Gang, the temperatures during the “Concert for Valor” hovered at around 60 degrees at 7 p.m., when the concert started. Some performers even noted the beautiful weather. But when Jennifer Hudson rolled out to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” she was clad not only in a heavy coat, but leather gloves. Carrie Underwood also wore a coat as she belted out three songs.
Perhaps they remembered the last time there was a sprawling HBO concert on the Mall, during Obama’s first inauguration proceedings in 2009, when the temperature was around 20 degrees. Still, while all of Washington cheered for the unseasonably warm weather, the bundled-up performers offered a bit of visual dissonance.
Carrie Underwood bundled up with scarf during her songs. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)
Meryl Streep, left, appeared to wear a heavy coat in comparison to Dave Grohl’s jean jacket. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Jennifer Hudson, left, wore gloves and a heavy, leather-trimmed coat in her performance with Jessie J. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Rihanna looked a bit like Bat Girl in a full sequined jumpsuit with a cape when she took the stage to play one of her biggest hits, “Diamonds.” A slightly upbeat version of her most affecting ballad “Stay” was accompanied by photos of service members embracing in the background.
If the Twitterverse was mildly worried about which songs she would play, however, — “S&M,” anyone? — they didn’t see Eminem coming.
After the polarizing rapper joined her on her third song, “Monster,” he celebrated the troops by wishing them a “Happy motherf—— Veterans Day.”
The set, which ended with his 2002 hit “Lose Yourself,” was filled with a few more choice words.
As the last act of the night, wrapping up with 10 minutes left to go before the concert’s promised end time of 10 p.m., the rapper (real name: Marshall Mathers) offered a cringe-worthy cap on the night.
…and Eminem is just dropping "f" bombs left and right. Not positive this is the right venue for that. #TheConcertForValor
In an apparent rush to leave, a crowd broke through the gates at the 10th Street NW exit. However, reporters say it appeared to be an isolated incident with the rest of the attendees clearing the area fairly quickly and smoothly.
Well, for starters, the Boss delivered a swampy, Lead Belly-inspired take on “Born in the U.S.A.” Was it a good idea to transform what was certainly the most anticipated song of the night into a dirty, barely recognizable growl? Yes. Yes, it was. The song kicked off a pair of transformed tunes from Bruce.
Did we imagine it? Was that service men and women in uniform headbanging in time to one of Metallica’s most trashing tracks, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”? As James Hetfield scowled and mean-mugged and shredded at his guitar for a solid four songs – this, from a band that rarely puts out a track under seven minutes — Metallica proved themselves the perfect antidote for mid-concert fatigue, and spawned what might just be tomorrow’s meme: Headbanger Girl.
That blonde girl rocking out behind Lars is going to give herself whiplash. Kudos for going hard. #ConcertForValor
“For Whom the Bell Tolls,” an old track from 1984′s “Ride the Lightning,” when Metallica’s noise teetered on punk, was the opener of a set of fairly unexpected thrash from the band, whom Jack Black described as a favorite of veterans. The band wrapped with “Enter Sandman.”
Despite the thousands in attendance, the “Concert for Valor” crowd appeared to be fairly low-key. It was unclear whether the tone was set by the seriousness of the holiday surrounding the event or exhaustion from camping out on the grounds all day, but many noted a low energy away from the stage.
The Black Keys took the stage and offered very little of the unexpected for the crowds on the Mall, playing a perfunctory, practiced set of their hits.
Leave it to Carrie Underwood, who hid her pregnancy under a speckled coat, to resurrect some of the good feelings.
Her just-a-little-bit-off performance of her anthem “See You Again” kicked things off, followed by a stronger performance of “Something in the Water” — accompanied by a veritable choir of the Singing Sergeants of the U.S. Air Force Band. But it was her fierce, gospel-tinged “Before He Cheats” that got the crowd singing along feverishly. That should hush the audience members who are tired of all the country music at tribute concerts.
Sitting with a bunch of Texas girls during the Carrie Underwood set is entertaining just on its own #ConcertForValor#fangirls
The Smithsonian station will reopen at 10 p.m. — for entrance only — to help those attending the concert leave the Mall, according to an e-mail from Metro. “Smithsonian will be a good alternate to L’Enfant Plaza for riders traveling to destinations on the Silver or Orange lines,” according to the advisory.
Important Update: Smithsonian Sta will REOPEN at 10pm for ENTRY ONLY. Good alternate to L'Enfant for SV & OR riders #wmata#ConcertForValor
Bruce Springsteen, center, performs with Dave Grohl, second from right, and the Zac Brown Band. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
When Bruce Springsteen joined the Zac Brown Band and Dave Grohl at “The Concert for Valor” for a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 song, “Fortunate Son,” some in the crowd surely had to be scratching their heads over the choice. The song, which had the men singing “It ain’t me,” was written as a war protest tune, one that shuns red-white-and-blue patriotism without questioning authority.
CCR’s John Fogerty re-recorded the song last year with Grohl (that man gets around), and just a few days ago, at the White House’s tribute to the troops, performed the same track himself with a ferocity that Post music critic Chris Richards described thusly: “He blasted through ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Fortunate Son,’ the latter a scalding protest anthem Fogerty wrote in 1969, back when a different White House was overseeing a different war.”
Watch Fogerty talk about the inspiration for the song below.
“Let me tell you,” the figure in a simple denim jacket and plaid shirt said to the crowd that extended from the Capitol toward the Washington Monument. “It’s an honor to be here in my hometown of Washington, D.C.”
With just an acoustic guitar, Dave Grohl led the Mall crowd in a singalong of his old Foo Fighters hit, “My Hero,” that somehow gave the impression of intimacy where there really was none. It might as well have been Grohl playing in his basement to a crowd of five.
By the time he’d gotten to “Everlong,” barely whisper-singing “if everything could ever feel this real forever,” a total hush had fallen over the crowd. When so many televised concerts are so devoid of feeling and over-practiced, Grohl might have delivered one of the most memorable performances we’ll see.
I'm a big fan of Men who Fight Foo, but Dave Grohl solo is awesome. #ConcertForValor
Jennifer Hudson belted out “The Concert for Valor” kickoff song, “The Star-Spangled Banner” — of course — with tons of confidence before joining British pop star Jessie J for a slowed-down, unexpectedly powerful cover of Sia and David Guetta’s “Titanium.”
It’s not the first time we’ve seen JHud perform the national anthem. Remember the Super Bowl in 2009, when the pop star, in longer-haired days, regaled the crowd in Tampa in Miami with a pre-recorded version of the song?
My opinion? Her voice sounded far stronger tonight.
The Trust for the National Mall shared several photos from the sunny afternoon sound check today, as did audience members who arrived early enough to get a view of the stage today or went to last night’s rehearsal. Get a look at Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl (who some have said was playing the Foo Fighters’ hit “My Hero”), Jennifer Hudson (mistaken, it seems, for Jessie J) and Rihanna (who’s clearly singing the notes of her big hit “Diamonds.”)
Crowds appeared to be moving through the security checkpoints smoothly enough at entries on 15th, 14th and 12th Streets NW, then flowing toward the Capitol.
“USA! USA!” some chanted.
At 7th Street, however, police closed the entry. “Guys, best chance to go in is at 12th!”a uniformed police officer yelled.
Some argued with the police, asking why some couldn’t come in when others exited.
While most security checkpoints seemed free of lines, others grumbled at the long wait outside a refreshment kiosk near the Natural History Museum. Patrons said the stand was the only option for hot food, that other stations they visited offering snacks.
As far as mega-concerts go, tonight’s “The Concert for Valor” is eclectic, pairing Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood, Eminem, Rihanna and the Black Keys on the same bill.
Concert organizers won’t spill the beans on who’s playing what – or even what order they’ll play – but “Valor”-watchers have been told they can expect as many patriotic tunes as pop hits.
Because the concert will be performed for potentially hundreds of thousands of people live, plus untold millions at home, you can also be sure that the songs will be family-friendly and inoffensive lyrically (good luck, Eminem).
So, let’s kick off tonight’s coverage with a few predictions:
The Foo Fighters frontman and “Sonic Highways” rockumentarian is listed as a solo performer on the bill, but with so much cable-TV synergy, it’s difficult not to expect 1.) Some serious “Sonic Highways” plugging and 2.) A duet with the Zac Brown Band, who Grohl with recorded late last year in one of his “Grohl Sessions.” Additionally, Brown turned up this month at the Foo Fighters show in Nashville, so a little quid pro quo seems in order. As for the song they should perform together at “The Concert for Valor,” my money is on the Zac Brown Band’s “Free.”
The pop star has been Instagramming herself like crazy making the rounds at the White House before tonight’s concert. Just as she slipped comfortably into a modest yet playful pencil skirt and button-down shirt for her WH visit, I think she’ll slip right into line for tonight’s show and deliver the night’s obligatory performance of “America the Beautiful.” The song must make the set list not only for its patriotic importance, but also because it’s practically a rite of passage for every diva, including Mariah and Beyoncé, to perform it.
A rousing version of “War” would certainly shake things up, wouldn’t it?
The country singer just penned an emotional essay for Time about how her power-of-postitive-thinking anthem “See You Again” was embraced by the family of a slain service member. This one is pretty much a gimme for tonight’s set list.
“Don’t Tread on Me” qualifies as both patriotic and one of the best metal jams ever. But with so many songs that ring up at seven minutes or longer, and so many hits, Metallica is bound to play a medley, with a little “Enter Sandman,” as well as “The Day That Never Comes.”
Eminem’s recent material has an an angry streak, so much so that it’s hard to imagine him channeling his authority-tweaking Slim Shady alter ego today. My money’s on a cleaned-up version of his recent single “Guts Over Fear.” However, with Rihanna also on the night’s bill (the two went on tour together this summer), I think we should all hope for a performance of “Love the Way You Lie.“