Friday, March 17, 2023

Review: 'Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman'

Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming
 with Dave Letterman / Photo credit: Disney

You don't have to be a fan of U2 to love the new documentary "Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman," but it certainly doesn't hurt.

The new TV special (available on Disney+) is a wonderful Morgan Neville-directed film that somehow blends history, humor, love, friendship and palpable charm along with truly glorious music into a fast-moving special that obviously promotes U2's newly-released Songs of Surrender — which features 40 mostly-reworked songs from the group — while ultimately reminding the world why the Irish quartet is one of rock's great and enduring voices.

"We wanted to strip away the artifice that inevitably emerges after you’ve been around this long," Bono says early in the documentary.

Although drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton do not appear in the documentary — Mullen was recovering from surgery while Clayton was busy making an "art film" according to Bono — the special does provide entertaining insight into the band's singular career stretching back to their roots as students at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin where they met in the late 1970s. In addition to Letterman's colorful travels about Dublin and his insightful discussions with Bono and The Edge, there are also interviews with Irish artists including Glen Hansard, producer/U2 collaborator Jimmy Iovine and others to add additional perspective on U2.

Photo credit: Disney

Some of the highlights of the film include several performances at the Ambassador Theatre in Dublin, including kicking off with a reworked musical reading of "Vertigo." Toward the end of the special, Bono and The Edge gather with musical friends — including Imelda May, Dermot Kennedy and the aforementioned Hansard — in a pub to perform a casual singalong that will connect with anyone who has ever been to Ireland or an Irish pub on this side of the Atlantic.

The film ends with a new track, "Forty Foot Man," a wonderful song inspired by Letterman's visit to a notable south Dublin swimming location where the 75-year-old talk show host donned a wetsuit and dove into the freezing waters of the Atlantic.

"Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman" doesn't begin to tell U2's full story, but watching the documentary is certainly time well spent. 

Robert Kinsler

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