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Bono On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert at The Ed Sullivan Theatre, Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

Well now, that was different. They recorded last night’s Colbert out of sequence, opening the Bono segment with a harp and viola version and spoken word intro (from the memoir Bono is flogging so earnestly: “Surrender: Forty Songs, One Story”) to “With You Without You” and then continuing to the interview. I’ve been to many a late night show taping but I have never seen one that lasted an hour longer than the running time of the show. This taping was over two hours and what you saw? The editor must have had his hands full because what you saw was 20 minutes including the song.

At the end of the taping Colbert noted to no one in particularly, that it was among his favorite interviews either, the actual speaking was probably twice what you saw but what you missed was Bono taking the Colbert Test (Rorschach like questions) and in response to what happens after you died claimed “We begin”. Both Bono and Colbert are committed Christians and Colbert beamed at that response, he didn’t pursue the line of questioning but you just know it was a pleasure for him to meet up with a musician with faith in God.

There were other bits that ended up on the cutting room fall, sadly the production staff putting a virtual mullet on Bono (his 26 year old son has one) went the way of all flesh, Steve and Bono pounding back rum? Not there. Most egregiously, Bono discussing Van Morrison was cut as Bono remembered playing a new song for him and Van claiming “It should be good when it is finished”. By cutting that portion when Bono, in a tour de force of positivity that the US has not arrived yet at its golden age, Steve responded “should be good when its finished”: the audience roared and Bono shook his hand but the show couldn’t explain what was happening. In discussing punk, Bono got us singing along to the theme of the Monkees, and, why am I hearing so much about it?, Colbert brings up a Creem feature about maybe U2 cars.

The interview is at its worse when Bono discusses the creative process, improvisation and searching for the next note, etc. But he was much better at that in a different interview when the band wanted to see how they could speed up the recording process , Bono explained how he asked Paul McCartney how the Beatles did it (arrive early, record a song, take a break, record another song, have lunch, come back and do a third: aka Please Please Me) and U2 agreed to try it themselves -it didn’t get past the first day.

I am not a Bono fan (I’ll give U2 everything from Achtung to Atomic but that’s it) and I am not a Colbert fan (too much like a clever dick) but there is a huge difference between Bono lecturing his audience about giving their money to the less fortunate while charging $200 for a stadium nosebleed seat, and giving hope in a dramatic and beautiful vision of the unfinished work of greatness that is the US… no wonder Steve enjoyed talking with Bono so much.

Grade: A-

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