"Emotional. Chilling. Unexpected."
Aldean was headlining last Sunday at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a man killed 59 people and injured at least 527 in what has become the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. The bullets rained down on the 22,000-person crowd of while Aldean was performing on stage.
"I'm Jason Aldean," the singer said to the audience. "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," he continued. "There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends -- they're all part of our family. So I want to say to them: We hurt for you, and we hurt with you, but 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."
The country singer's performance of "I Won't Back Down" was also a tribute to Petty -- an American rock legend -- who died unexpectedly only one day after the Las Vegas shooting. He was 66.
Aldean's "SNL" dual-tribute was his first live performance since the tragedy. See how viewers responded in the tweets below.
Jason Aldean playing "Wont back down" by Tom Petty to lead of Saturday Night Live is one of the most American things Ive seen. #VegasStrong— Eric Ewers (@ewers_eric) October 8, 2017
I didn't know that Jason Aldean singing Tom Petty was what my soul needed right now, but I am FEELING THINGS #SNL— Jessica O (@jessicamopp) October 8, 2017
Jason Aldean singing Tom Petty....so perfect#SNL— Matthew Slanina (@iMatrickSwayze) October 8, 2017
I pray that the 59 beautiful souls who started off at a Jason Aldean show woke up to the most amazing Tom Petty concert ❤️😭🎼— jess 🎃 (@unapologetiicb) October 4, 2017
How could anyone be upset that Jason Aldean cancelled his concert here?? Like how inconsiderate and selfish can you get .— Bree (@BreannaKeenan_) October 4, 2017
Wow. #SNL opens with Jason Aldean singing a Tom Petty song in honor of the Las Vegas victims. Chills.— David Onda (@David_Onda) October 8, 2017
Wow. Jason Aldean opening SNL singing Tom Petty “I Won’t Back Down.” Emotional. Chilling. Unexpected.— Jacob Long (@JacobLong_KSDK) October 8, 2017
Perfect song, I figured I wasn't the only one who thought of it with Petty's passing combined with this terrible tragedy. We won't back down— Jonathan S (@jsugalski) October 8, 2017
Jason Aldean just did a cold intro on SNL “America is at its best when our bond is unbroken. And he hurts with those who were hurt in Vegas”— Nick Russo (@Kingnickrusso) October 8, 2017
Jason Aldean opens SNL with Tom Petty's Won't Back Down.— Eric Alper (@ThatEricAlper) October 8, 2017
This is why music matters.
This is why music heals. pic.twitter.com/imCO2FdPRh