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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

U2: Now in Documentary – Life

A new documentary, premiering March 17 on Disney+, travels with Bono Vox and The Edge to the origins of U2 and their umbilical connection with their city, Dublin, under the stunned gaze of master interviewer David Letterman.

“It was good to see our city and our country through his eyes, through your eyes,” said Bono Vox at the world premiere of the documentary at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. “And see ourselves reaching adulthood,” he joked.

“Bono and The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman” was directed by Morgan Neville and is a journey into U2’s past. It debuts on St. Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of Ireland, the same day the band releases “Songs of Surrender”, a collection of 40 iconic songs that have been reimagined and re-recorded.

The documentary shows the idea behind the reinvention of these songs and the genesis of the questioning that haunted the artists, who formed U2 in 1976.

“If the songs are good, they reach the people who need them most. That was the selfish part of this project, wanting to hear our songs again almost like it was the first time,” said Bono Vox. “We had the question of whether they could survive without the power of a rock band in full force. We didn’t know it”.

The band’s reinvention of iconic sounds went further on some songs, with lyrical changes. This is what happened, for example, with “Every Breaking Wave” and, more famously, with “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. “I was embarrassed by some parts of the lyrics, and on this project I managed to finish them”, revealed Bono.

With drummer Larry Mullen recovering from surgery and bassist Adam Clayton organizing an artistic exhibition, Bono and The Edge invited music students and Irish folk talent to play with them in an intimate concert at the Ambassador Theater in Dublin.

“Any lasting song eventually becomes a folk song, if you pay attention. But we only realized that when we took them apart,” Bono said. “This project gave us back our songs”.

The documentary shows various parts of this performance, which intertwine with interviews and stories from the past. At the premiere in Los Angeles, the audience that was watching the film applauded as if they were at the concert. David Letterman found this remarkable.

“The star of this film is the music,” he said. “As we watched the film and saw the music being performed, we heard the audience in the film applauding. And the music is the star in such a way that people in this theater saw it also applauded, ”she underlined.

Letterman had never been to Dublin and the invitation to travel to Ireland and talk with Bono and The Edge about his music, his career and the intimate relationship between art and the city was “a gift”.

“I’m so pleased and proud, I don’t know how or why this happened,” said Letterman. “You don’t come across people like that very often. They are very intelligent artists and being in their presence was a delightful awakening.”

During the filming of the documentary, Bono and The Edge ended up writing a song about Letterman himself, “Forty Foot Man”, after the presenter had visited the famous Forty Foot promontory in the south of Dublin Bay. At the preview, Bono hummed parts of the song live and said the presenter “brought comedy to tragedy”.

“When we were in the library and this was presented to me, I was blown away,” Letterman said. “I can’t even tell you how lovely that gesture was, what a gift it was to me.”

The deep relationship between Bono and The Edge is also examined in this documentary, which includes pub crawls and plunges into icy waters. The Edge said it was a very joyous process.

“The funny thing about this project is that nobody knew about it and nobody expected it”, said the musician. “When we started we were free to just enjoy the process,” he continued. “I think that without pressure or expectation we can get lost. Getting back in touch with these songs was amazing.”

“Bono and The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman”, produced by Imagine Documentaries by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Tremolo Productions and Worldwide Pants, premieres on Disney+ Portugal on March 17.

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