What You Didn’t See On-Camera at the HBO Concert

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Sasha Fierce in 2012!
Sasha Fierce in 2012! Photo: Getty Images

Not even the bizarre choice of celebrity speakers at yesterday’s Inaugural Opening Ceremony (Jack Black and Steve Carell? Really?) can mar what will go down as the most orgiastic mainstream concert bill we will see in our lifetimes: U2, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige. Vulture has the play-by-play of what you missed on the HBO broadcast. But our intrepid reporter, Jada Yuan, had a clean view of the stage and the First Family–elect in their bulletproof glass cage. Here’s what the cameras missed.

• Secret Service snipers pacing the roof of the Lincoln Memorial, clad entirely in black and carrying binoculars and really big machine guns.

• The seven or so planes that flew directly over the Memorial during the concert, low enough and loud enough to make us panic every time with unpleasant memories.

• The gasps in the crowd when the announcer said Denzel Washington’s name. Said one man near us, “Damn, ALL the famous black people are here.”

• Denzel Washington ending the event’s first celebrity speech with a huge happy wave to Malia and Sasha. He also did a little dance and raised the roof for Mary J. Blige’s rendition of “Lean On Me.”

• Barack Obama hesitating, then laughingly standing up when Jamie Foxx insisted that “Chi-Town stand up!”

• Joe Biden sprinting to the stage like a linebacker to give his speech. When he was done, the entire press pit started joking how they’d never heard him talk that short. “You could see it was killing him. He had to tear himself away!” said one reporter.

• Sasha squirming and then having a chat with Michelle before they both disappeared for the duration of John Mellencamp’s “Ain’t That America.” We’re guessing potty break.

• Barack Obama giving Mellencamp an “Oh, man, you killed it!” finger point at the end of his song.

• Queen Latifah peering out from the wings to take a good look at the first family before her speech. Denzel let her take his place leaning against the wall during Tiger Woods’s speech — the one and only time he moved from that spot.

• Malia taking Kal Penn’s photo. Later, she took a picture of Jill Biden dancing to Stevie Wonder’s "Higher Ground."

• Michelle and Barack Obama singing along to Garth Brooks’s “American Pie” — Michelle tried unsuccessfully to get Malia and Sasha to sing along, too. Think it’s a little before their time?

• Will.I.Am breaking out a video camera and taping the crowd.

• Half the press pit literally shaking as they take notes, since it’s so cold. Still, everyone sings along to “This Land Is Your Land.”

• As the stage empties after the final sing-along to “America the Beautiful,” Stevie Wonder standing by himself, playing harmonica to no one. God bless.

Related: Sasha and Malia: America's Adorable New Statler and Waldorf [NYM]