FILM COLUMN – Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with David Letterman

HONESTLY, I don’t know why Bono didn’t get the gig as The Late Late Show presenter.

Think about it.

Instead of looking at Pat Shortt and Mario Rosenstock week in, week out, you’d have a bevvy of world leaders, politicians, saints, sinners, as well as the rich, famous, and beautiful, shoving Twink way down on the pecking order.

And the new Disney+ film Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with David Letterman, which was released on St Patrick’s Day to honour the blessed Irish rock singer, almost comes across as his application for the job.

Watching Bono do what he does best — schmooze — it is clear that it wasn’t The Clash’s Joe Strummer that a young Paul Hewson from Ballymun aspired to, but charismatic broadcasting giant Gay Byrne.

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As a lifelong U2 fan, the new Disney+ documentary is at times a major cringe fest, while in other parts, Bono and The Edge, stripping down some of their songs back to basics — “three chords and the truth” — strikes a real, raw, emotional nerve, like only U2 can.

The Dublin band are still the high kings of “ecstatic music” and hearing some of their big tunes, some of which we have lived with me for the past 43 years, in such intimate surrounds, you’d almost forgive Bono his messiah complex.


But, even U2 guitarist The Edge confesses during this feature-length film that Bono’s philanthropic endeavours and often dubious political bedfellows has come close, on occasion, to breaking up their band.

However, the real star of this U2 documentary is not even a musician. Ironically, it is a former talk show host that really steals the show here.

David Letterman, on his first visit to Dublin to hang out with Bono and The Edge in their hometown, is more enigmatic now than he ever was, and he doesn’t need a rock’n’roll swagger to prove it.

There’s a running joke throughout about Letterman and raggle-taggle Frames singer Glen Hansard having a major “beard off”. But while you get the impression that Hansard really wants to be Bono, the U2 man could never fill Letterman’s water-logged shoes.

Old age, or should I say, older age, suits David Letterman. Wandering the Dublin streets, chatting with Bono’s disciples, he comes across as a more empathetic and sincere soul than you know who.

This really is a David Letterman Show with a wonderful U2 soundtrack.

Tis an awful pity though that neither of them were available for the Late Late job.