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In upcoming concert doc Bono and The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman, U2’s Bono and The Edge return to Dublin with longtime fan David Letterman in tow.
On Wednesday evening, the stars gathered at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the film’s premiere. Following the screening, the trio and director Morgan Neville took the stage for a Q&A panel moderated by The Hollywood Reporter’s Nekesa Mumbi Moody.
In the Disney+ film, Letterman joins Bono and The Edge as they dive into the history of U2, Irish culture and the nearly 50-year songwriting partnership between the two friends.
“[Letterman] brought the comedy to the tragedy and there’s a reason why Shakespeare loved that form. Our music is just better with him around,” Bono praised the host. “The music is better itself just by him being in the room, taking the piss out of us.”
Noticeably absent from the film are drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and bassist Adam Clayton — the former was injured during filming, while the latter was working on other creative pursuits at the time. In the interim, the U2 frontman and guitarist duo decided to make a project together. “If your two good-looking members [Mullen Jr. and Clayton] have gone AWOL, let’s bring in some great storytellers,” Edge joked, referring to Letterman and Neville.
A Sort of Homecoming sees the musicians prepare for an intimate show at Dublin’s Ambassador Theatre as they re-examine and update some of their iconic song lyrics.
“People like to talk about songs as their children,” Bono said about the ever-evolving songwriting process. “They’re not — they’re your parents. They tell you what to do, tell you how to look, how to wear, who to work with.”
“If you’re smart, you do what they tell you to do,” added Edge.
Near the end of the film, Bono and Edge present Letterman with an impromptu song that they wrote about him the night before titled “Forty Foot Man.”
“I was stunned,” Letterman remembered about hearing the song for the first time. “I just thought it’s three o’clock in the morning. They’re writing a song about me. And I thought, ‘oh, I’m glad that’s over.’ And then it turned out, oh no, it’s not over. It’s a real song. I can’t tell you what a lovely gesture and gift that has been for me.” At that, Bono and Edge started a steady clap for an acapella performance of the song onstage.
Throughout the panel, the trio kept the audience laughing, as they couldn’t resist joking and teasing one another.
“Well, being honest, the first idea was Jay Leno,” Edge joked about asking Letterman to join the doc. In all seriousness, the musician added, “We’re huge fans, have been for a long time. We’ve known Dave for many years and he was foolish enough once to invite us to play for an entire week on The Late Show. It was very brave of him.”
Bono continued, “We wanted to make some sense of our band, but as Freud famously said, the one race that might be impervious to psychoanalysis are the Irish. It was great to see our city and our country through [Letterman’s] eyes and see our country grow.”
“I’ve been in television and this sort of thing since I was 18,” Letterman added of his experience in Dublin. “At this stage of my life to have been a part of this — tonight’s the first time I’ve seen [the film] in person — was just a gift. What a lovely piece of work. I’m so pleased, so proud. And I don’t know how it happened exactly. I don’t know why it happened, but this kind of makes the first 35 years of being in television well worth the effort.”
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman premieres March 17 on Disney+.
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