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Friday 17 November 2017

Edge plays world's 'most beautiful parish hall'

U2 guitarist is first rock star to play the Sistine Chapel

The Edge poses for a picture with Irish bishop Paul Tighe (right) at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters
The Edge poses for a picture with Irish bishop Paul Tighe (right) at the Vatican. Photo: Reuters

Philip Pullella

The Edge has become the first rock star to play in the Sistine Chapel, a venue that he described as "the most beautiful parish hall in the world".

The guitarist, whose real name is David Evans, sang four songs on Saturday night for around 200 doctors, researchers and philanthropists attending a conference at the Vatican, called Cellular Horizons on regenerative medicine.

Backed by a choir of seven Irish teenagers and wearing his trademark black beanie cap, The Edge played acoustic guitar and sang a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'If it Be Your Will', and versions of U2 songs, including 'Yahweh', 'Ordinary love' and 'Walk On'.

The Edge, whose father died last month from cancer and whose daughter has overcome leukaemia, is on the board of foundations that are working for cancer prevention.

He joked with his audience, telling them that he was stunned when asked to play in the chapel, which was painted by the Renaissance master Michelangelo in the 16th Century.

"When they asked me if I wanted to become the first contemporary artist to play in the Sistine Chapel, I didn't know what to say because usually there's this other guy who sings," the musician said, referring to U2 front man Bono.

"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.

He then thanked Pope Francis and other Vatican officials "for allowing us to use the most beautiful parish hall in the world".

The Edge dedicated his performance of 'Walk On', written in 2000 for Myanmar democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi when she was under house arrest, to Pope Francis, whom he described as "the people's Pope".

"He's doing an amazing job and long may he continue," he added.

The rock star sprinkled his address with technical terms, such as biomarkers and angiogenesis. "I can tell this is a really cool audience because normally when I say angiogenesis eyes glaze over," he said.

Angiogenesis is the process through which new blood vessels, which tumours need to grow, are formed. Scientists are seeking ways to block tumour angiogenesis.

The Vatican conference, which was addressed by the US vice-president Joe Biden on Friday, was organised by the US-based Stem for Life Foundation to share ideas and treatments on the use of adult stem cells to cure rare diseases.

Last month, the Edge led mourners at the funeral for his father, Garvin Evans, who died at the age of 84.

He paid tribute to his father's "unswerving positivity" in the face of a decade-long battle with illness.

Irish Independent

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