Four years after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, a benefit concert was held for those still suffering from the disaster, and U2 made a surprise appearance and performance at the event. While much of the city of Port-au-Prince has been cleaned up, with many of the tent camps gone, there are still around 150,000 people living on the edge in temporary structures around the city. For this reason, Sean Penn organized the third annual Help Haiti Benefit, which was held at the Beverly Hills Montage Hotel on Sunday.
With a list of celebrities such as Bette Midler, Chelsea Handler, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Douglas attending, along with many others, it was a gala event. The event was hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who made the largest donation of the night when he bid $1.4 million in the hope of winning a sculpture which will be created in the future from 65 firearms discarded by Penn. Including this huge donation, the event raised $6 million to provide sustainable shelter, education and emergency care to the still devastated people of Haiti.
What wasn’t expected by the celebrity crowd, however, was a surprise appearance by the Irish band U2, which saw the first performance together by band members in four years. The band entertained the celebrity crowd with their hits Desire, I Will Follow and Vertigo.
In addition to his appearance with the full band earlier in the evening, U2 vocalist Bono also entertained the audience with an acoustic performance. That was given along with Haitian singer Anaelle Jean-Pierre and guitarist The Edge. A video of the performance is included at the end of this article.
“It’s been a while,” Bono was heard to joke, before playing on stage, “since we played a hotel lounge. I think the last time was a bar mitzvah.”
While the event was a success, Penn did say that he hopes that his organization will not be needed within the next 10 years.
He did say, “I’m not satisfied. I want more.” He made the statement that this could not have happened in the United States, praising the successful clean up so far in Haiti and the resilience of the country’s people.
Of interest to note, it seems that Penn and Charlize Theron were getting rather cozy at the event. Rumors have been doing the rounds of them being an item,. While they did not actually pose together on the red carpet that night, they did get very friendly. At a table in the center of the ballroom, Penn was observed putting his arm around Theron. This was reportedly followed by a couple of kisses on her neck and then one “smackeroo” right on the lips. According to onlookers, they looked very comfortable together.
The rumors started flying about the pair when they were seen as a couple on January 5 at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. Reportedly they also had a holiday getaway in Hawaii in December, They have also been seen hanging out and spending time together in Penn’s Malibu home.
Romantic gossip aside, however, the most important thing to come from the evening was the money raised at the Haiti Benefit Concert. The unexpected surprise performance by the Irish band U2 in their first joint stage effort in four years, was icing on the cake.
By Anne Sewell