02 May 2016
Christopher Lamb in Rome
With or Without You: Rock guitarist has The Edge over Bono with historic concert at the Sistine Chapel
The Edge expresses Pride at playing In God's Country in concert Even Better than the Real Thing
As a home to Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, the world’s oldest choir and the place where cardinals elect a new Pope the Sistine Chapel is an icon of western history.
But on Saturday night it took a step into the contemporary era when U2 guitarist The Edge became the first rock star to use the chapel as a venue.
The performer, who's real name is David Evans, sang four songs for an audience of doctors, researchers and philanthropists who had attended a Vatican conference on regenerative medicine focussed on exploring cures for cancer.
Evans performed alongside a choir of seven Irish teenagers and sang versions of U2’s songs “Yahweh”, “Ordinary Love” and “Walk On” - they also sang a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will.”
The guitarist, who described the chapel as “the most beautiful parish hall in the world”, had been attending the conference as his father last month died of cancer while his daughter has suffered from leukaemia.
According to Reuters The Edge dedicated “Walk On” to Pope Francis who he described as “the people’s pope.” The song was written in honour of Aung San Suu Kyi, the long time campaigner for democracy in Myanmar.
"Being Irish you learn very early that if you want to be asked to come back it's very important to thank the local parish priest for the loan of the hall," he said.
Irish band U2, whose songs often have Christian motifs, are no strangers to the Vatican. Lead singer Bono had a famous meeting in 1999 with Pope John Paul II who during the encounter put on the star’s wrap around sunglasses. The pair collaborated on attempts to reduce third world debt in the run up to the millennium.
The conference on regenerative medicine was organised by a United States based Stem for Life Foundation and the Pontifical Council for Culture and seeking to find treatments using adult stem cells. The Church opposes the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research because of the destruction of embryos involved.
The news that a U2 guitarist played in the Sistine Chapel is unlikely to impress Benedict XVI who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said rock music is the antithesis of Christian worship.
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