7 moments you shouldn't miss from the inaugural concert: From Justin Timberlake to Katy Perry's epic finale

Charles Trepany, USA TODAY
·4 min read

No inaugural balls? No problem. Celebrities still rocked the evening of President Joe Biden's inauguration.

"Celebrating America," hosted Wednesday by Tom Hanks, saw John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato and other famous faces gather remotely and in Washington for rousing musical numbers and performances in honor of the new Biden administration.

The 90-minute show — which aired across multiple TV networks and streaming platforms — kicked off at 8:30 p.m. EST and featured remarks from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as a tribute to COVID-19 first responders.

From a massive live fireworks display to a song of unity from Tim McGraw, here are seven stand-out moments from the show:

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John Legend rocked a piano performance from the Lincoln Memorial

Along with performers like Bruce Springsteen, Legend gave one of the few live performances of the night, and he didn't disappoint. The star appeared to relish singing a rendition of the classic tune "Feeling Good" while playing the piano, all outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. "This old world is a new world and a bold world for me," Legend crooned.

Katy Perry lit up the night

Katy Perry also rocked a memorable live performance. Wearing all white, in a possible nod to 20th-century suffragettes who worked to get women the right to vote, Perry belted out her 2010 hit "Firework" — as real fireworks lit up the night sky around the Washington Monument behind her.

As Perry sang the self-empowerment anthem, the Bidens appeared to watch the jaw-dropping fireworks display from the White House balcony. Meanwhile, Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff looked on from the Lincoln Memorial.

Justin Timberlake returned to his roots

Timberlake, who recently welcomed his second child, returned to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee with Ant Clemons to jam out to their song "Better Days." Singing outside the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the two crooned about how "better days are coming."

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Joe Biden got poetic with Lin Manuel-Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda also gave a notable performance. Though the "Hamilton" mastermind didn't sing, he gave a rousing rendition of New York City of Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney's "The Cure at Troy" — and was even joined by Biden for the final verse of the poem.

"Once in a lifetime, that justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme," the two recited together on a split-screen. The poem is a favorite of Biden's, who has recited lines from it in speeches throughout the years.

Ozuna passes the mic to Luis Fonsi

At one point during the show, Latin trap singer Ozuna gave a remote performance of his hit "Taki Taki" with DJ Cassidy. The song quickly transitioned into the hit "Despacito," which found Luis Fonsi popping in to sing while sporting a single AirPod in his ear.

"Today's the start of something new," said DJ Cassidy. "It's the start of our coming together for the soul of America."

Demi Lovato performs as part of Joe Biden's "Celebrating America" inauguration celebration on Jan. 21, 2021.
Demi Lovato performs as part of Joe Biden's "Celebrating America" inauguration celebration on Jan. 21, 2021.

Demi Lovato rocked a new look

Lovato gave a groovy performance of Bill Withers' 1977 R&B classic "Lovely Day." And Lovato wasn't singing alone — she was joined remotely by frontline healthcare workers, who played instruments and sang backup.

Her performance also offered a live peek into the White House where the Bidens, dressed to the nines, danced along. The first couple took in Lovato's video as the new president held his baby grandchild.

The performance also marked a new look for Lovato, who sported a short, pink hairdo.

Tim McGraw, Tyler Hubbard gave a duet about unity

Appearing from Nashville, Tennessee, Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard brought their collaborative new single "Undivided" to the evening. McGraw and Hubbard released the song — which boasts the message "we've been hateful long enough" — last week, and the tune was most-added to country music radio Monday.

"The song's message of unity and faith stirred my soul," McGraw said. "And tonight, especially when we look across the river at our strong, resilient, beautiful city of Nashville, we're honored to sing it for everyone."

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Contributing: Matthew Leimkuehler, Nashville Tennessean

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inauguration concert: Katy Perry, Tim McGraw wow with performances