Letterman Visits U2 Guys in Dublin for ‘A Sort of Homecoming’ on Disney Plus
Bono and The Edge rethink some older songs, chat about songwriting process with Dave
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman debuts on Disney Plus March 17. With U2 mates Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen unavailable, Bono and Edge reimagine a bunch of classic U2 songs, and perform at a cozy theater in Dublin.
And Letterman, on his first trip to Ireland, is there to take it all in.
Letterman knew the band from them playing his late-night show over the decades, and Bono and Edge asked if Letterman might make the trip to Dublin. “They asked if he might be interested in going on this journey with them,” said Sara Bernstein, executive producer.
The special runs for just shy of an hour and a half. Imagine Documentaries, Tremolo Productions and Worldwide Pants produce. Bernstein said the project came together quickly, starting over the summer, with filming beginning in the fall, and the band’s performance at Ambassador Theater happening at the end of 2022.
A bunch of musicians, including cellists, violinists, and Glen Hansard from the Dublin film Once, join Bono and Edge, the latter on acoustic guitar, onstage.
“It’s the first time Bono and The Edge perform these versions in front of any sort of audience,” Bernstein said.
Letterman introduces Bono and Edge to the Ambassador crowd, which Bernstein described as “really, really intimate.” He chats with Bono and Edge off-stage, asking whatever he is curious about, including how the band has stayed together for close to 50 years, and how songwriting happens.
“We wanted to strip away the artifice that inevitably emerges when you’ve been around this long,” Bono said.
Songs include “Beautiful Day”, “Pride” and “Bad.” Bono and Edge revisited the songs during the pandemic. Bono described how songs are never truly finished, and almost always up for an update. “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” for one, gets some new lyrics.
“In the isolation of the pandemic, it was almost like, what is left when everything is stripped away?” said Edge. “Where do you take it?”
Bono, of course, has been a prominent figure for decades, something of a household name through his music and activism. Edge has a much lower profile, but one glimpses his personality in the film. Bernstein described him as “personable, funny, approachable and soulful.”
Bono, Edge, Dave and a number of musicians sip Guinness in a pub, laugh and break into song. (Well, Bono, Edge and the musicians break into song.) Letterman ventures around Dublin, chatting with the locales. He is enchanted by a seaside locale known as Forty Foot, where Dubliners swim year round. Bono and Edge write Letterman a song, about him and the chilly and wet Dublin landmark.
Letterman plays the fish out of water in Dublin, not quite speaking the local language, but amused by it all. Bernstein said he “was really supportive of the idea of doing something different.”
Watching Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman is not the worst way to spend St. Patrick’s Day.
Also on St. Patrick’s Day, U2 releases Songs of Surrender, a collection of 40 U2 songs from over the years. It’s a companion to Bono’s memoir Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.
Disney Plus is moving further into the music space. Other rock ‘n roll projects on the network include The Beatles: Get Back and Elton John Live. In the works is docuseries Choir, about Detroit Youth Choir, which appeared on America’s Got Talent.
For Imagine Documentaries, Bernstein, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Justin Wilkes are executive producers. For Tremolo, Morgan Neville is director and producer, and Caitrin Roger is executive producer. For Worldwide Pants, Tom Keaney is executive producer.
Wilkes works with Letterman on his Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction..
Letterman hosted Late Night With David Letterman on NBC from 1982 to 1993. He then shifted to CBS, where he hosted Late Show with David Letterman until 2015.
When the project was announced earlier this year, Letterman said, “I won a radio contest. Winner gets to visit Dublin with Bono and The Edge (radio contest part not true, but I feel like a winner). They showed me around, introduced me to their musician friends, and performed some of their greatest songs in a small theater. It’s a great tour. Get in touch with them ― I’m told there are still availabilities. I’m the luckiest man on the planet. (There are no availabilities).” ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.