A crowd numbering at least in the tens thousands jammed the National Mall for "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial" -- a two-hour show featuring performances by James Taylor, Jon Bon Jovi, Shakira, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, U2, Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce. Celebrities including Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods and Queen Latifah took part in the show, which celebrated not just the incoming president but also landmark moments in U.S. history -- with particular emphasis on racial equality and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Two days before he is to be inaugurated as America's 44th president -- and its first black president -- Obama told the crowd the United States faces historic challenges.
"I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many," he said. "Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation."
However, Obama said he was "as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure -- that the dream of our founders will live on in our time."
Security for the event was in evidence as the massive crowd was required to pass through metal detectors and sharpshooters could clearly be seen, The Washington Post reported.
Springsteen was joined onstage by folk music icon Pete Seeger, who led the crowd in singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." Beyonce wrapped up the program with "America the Beautiful."
The concert was produced and televised by HBO, which also streamed it live on the Internet.