David Letterman joins Bono and The Edge in a new documentary which will be released this weekend on U2 and soon the obvious question arises: what is David Letterman doing here?
The funny American comedian with a bushy beard is an odd choice to host this project which debuts Friday on the Disney + streaming service, throwing everything off balance, even the title, “Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman.
Director Morgan Neville does a terrific job of using new interviews and including brilliant insights from musician Glen Hansard and producer Jimmy Iovine, blending them with old performances as he explores the origins of the band, the creation of their songs, the ups and downs. But it’s unclear whether it’s a travel show or a music documentary, and neither works well.
The backbone of the film is a concert by Bono and The Edge at the Ambassador Theater in Dublin, Ireland, where they unveil some of the new stripped down and modified versions of their catalog for the new acoustic album “Songs of Surrender”, which includes songs like “Vertigo”, “Bad” and “One”.
But Letterman isn’t just entertaining, he’s annoying. We see him wandering around Dublin shopping with his quirky, clueless sense of humor, as if the show is about him. “I’m interested in a wheel of cheese. I never bought a wheel of cheese,” he says.
There’s even a bizarre sequence where Bono draws a map of Ireland for his guest and unravels the complex history of Irish-English relations. “Who do I dislike in this?” Letterman asks. The answer is Letterman. The documentary does an excellent job of giving context to the rise of U2, including the social, religious and cultural changes that took place in Dublin in the late 1970s and 1980s, or as Bono puts it, “like the ‘Ireland goes from black and white to colour’.
There are revelations, some small, like drummer Larry Mullen Jr.’s childhood nickname was “The Jam Jar,” and some big, like when Bono admits tensions within the band regarding his activism, and moments to celebrate, like his major Super Bowl halftime show after the September 11 attacks in New York.
But Letterman reappears, visiting polar swimmers or stopping at the recording studio. Bono and The Edge even wrote him a goodbye song. But that doesn’t add anything to the documentary.
Watching the movie, you start to realize how crucial The Edge is, and you can even hear him sing a few songs and talk about how he came up with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” while playing the chord on a guitar. Bono mentions how key his bandmate is, in a sweet way, in concert.
“What I don’t like about Edge is that he doesn’t need me. He could do all of this (write, sing, perform, act, produce) on his own. But that’s not the case,” says Bono.
“Because it’s not that fun,” replies The Edge.
The only thing that ruins this particular chemistry is not a bone of contention, but an American with a cheese.
“Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman,” a Disney+ premiere, is rated TV-14 in the United States for material that may be inappropriate for children under 14. Two and a half out of four stars.
Mark Kennedy is on Twitter as http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.
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