U2 have never met a big stage they couldn’t hold and Sunday night’s (March 2) Oscars were no exception. The legendary Irish rockers performed their Best Original Song nominated anthem “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” unplugged, but with an electric charge that that captivated the star-studded audience.
Playing on a spare stage lit by six large spotlights, the band played an acoustic version of the tune, with singer Bono hitting the falsetto highs of the chorus, “We can’t fall any further/If we can’t feel ordinary love/We cannot reach any higher,” as images of Mandela illuminated the screen behind them.
The stripped down take found Bono crouched down on the lip of the stage staring intently into the crowd, which rewarded the quartet at song’s end with a standing ovation led by Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto .
On a night that already saw musical numbers from fellow Best Original Song nominees Pharrell Williams and Karen O, U2’s set was an emotional highpoint in the evening’s proceedings.
It was also yet another honor for the veteran band, who already have two Golden Globes, including one from January for “Ordinary Love,” as well as for “The Hands That Built America” in 2003 from “Gangs of New York,” which also earned them their first Best Original Song Oscar nomination.
The song is an emotional one for the conscious rockers, who Bono said in a recent interview had worked on behalf of Mandela’s cause since they were teenagers. The performance was especially poignant in light of the anti-apartheid icon’s death in December at age 95. Two of Mandela’s daughters, Zindzi and Zenani were expected to be in the audience for Sunday night’s awards.