Country star Jason Aldean was onstage performing at Route 91 Harvest Festival when every music fan’s worst nightmare came true last Sunday in Las Vegas. During county superstar Jason Aldean‘s set at Route 91 Harvest Festival, a shooter opened fire on the thousands of concert-goers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel across the street from the concert’s grounds, killing nearly 60 people and injuring more than 500 more.
On Saturday night, Aldean made an unannounced appearance on Saturday Night Live, where he spoke about the Vegas shooting and the subsequent fallout during the show’s cold open. The singer wore his emotions on his sleeve, stoically yet sincerely addressing the millions watching.
“This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. Like everyone I’m struggling to understand what happened that night, and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal,” Aldean said. “So many people are hurting and they’re our children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends. They’re all part of our family. I want to say to them, we hurt for you and we hurt with you,” he continued. “You can be sure we’re going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way. Because when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit, it’s unbreakable.”
Following his brief statement, Aldean and his band counted into a particularly appropriate cover of Tom Petty‘s Full Moon Fever (1989) classic “I Won’t Back Down.” This week, the world also said goodbye to Petty after he suffered a heart attack and passed away on Monday, October 2nd, the day after the Vegas shooting. Aldean’s rendition of the defiant anthem was both a fitting tribute to the late legend and an earnest message of hope after the horrifying events in Las Vegas a week ago.
Below, you can watch Jason Aldean perform Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” on SNL in the wake of the horrific mass shooting during his performance in Las Vegas last weekend:
Aldean’s appearance on SNL, hosted this week by Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, marked the Georgia native’s first public performance since the shooting. He canceled three scheduled concerts on his They Don’t Know Tour this weekend out of respect for the victims and is set to return to the road on October 12th in Tulsa, Oklahoma.