Over the past year, Saturday Night Live‘s cold opens have gained praise and notoriety for their use of satirical skits to mock U.S. and international affairs, particularly those revolving around President Donald Trump and his administration.
But SNL opted for a change of pace this week, with country singer Jason Aldean — who was performing on stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival when gunman Stephen Paddock began firing into the crowd, killing 58 people — leading the cold open.
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Aldean started with an emotional introduction, in which he expressed solidarity with survivors and family and friends of victims.
“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. So many people are hurting, there are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, they’re all part of our family. So I wanna say to them, ‘We hurt for you, and we hurt with you.’ You can be sure that we’re gonna 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.”
He then launched into a cover of “I Won’t Back Down,” one of the most famous songs by rock legend Tom Petty, who passed away on Monday.