U2 have appeared on pretty much every late night show they possibly could. Not even looking at the old days, and not even looking overseas, here in the US I’ve seen them on a bunch of shows. They’ve done Saturday Night Live, where the network lost all sorts of credibility as they cut the show while the band played on. They did a week on Letterman a few years ago, playing a song a night all week while they introduced the new album. And they were supposed to do a week on the Tonight Show last year to introduce Songs Of Innocence, but Bono’s bike accident messed that up.
So tonight they were back on the Tonight Show, a whole episode dedicated just to the band. Now I have to admit that I knew most everything that was going to happen, because I pay attention to the band and knew they actually filmed it all earlier this week. I knew the songs they were going to play, knew the bits they were going to do. Bono on the bike, already saw the pics online, just needed the punchline, which didn’t make any sense. Subway performance was fun, although it was obvious it was them from the start. My wife asked me what I would have done if I’d been down there, if I would have recognized them. I replied that I would definitely have said “F**k, that’s U2.”
The music: They played Beautiful Day, which has become the go-to hit for the band, the more recent song that everybody knows. Wow, I just wrote that Beautiful Day is more recent, when it is fifteen years old. Time flies, huh? It was hard to tell but there were a couple of moments when I thought Bono’s arm did look a little stiff, but then there were moments when he was swinging it freely, so who knows how well it will hold up? And they played Song For Someone, which seems like it is intended to be another song they want everyone to know and sing. I reviewed it way back when, thought it was about average, and haven’t changed my opinion much since then. They also played Angel of Harlem, according to reports, but it never made it to air, good job once again NBC (at least they posted it online, and it turned out really good, with the Roots joining in). And the audience sucked, all those eighteen year old girls lined up along the edge of the stage, with the prettiest one at the end for Bono to hold her hand, yeah right. They better get out of my way when I’m in the GA in Chicago.
I used to love Jimmy Fallon when he was on Saturday Night Live, he was really funny. Too many shows to count where he would start giggling during a skit, that was always hilarious. He went on to his own show, Late Night, where he was still funny. But now he’s doing the Tonight Show, he seems to have been given a humor transplant, because he is frankly not that good any more. You still see it at times, but mostly he just seems like he’s had a bit of a damper put on him. His zaniness has disappeared, and I suspect that NBC told him that he could have the job but he would have to tone down slightly. Sad.
But plenty of credit for the band, the rating below because they were live (well, live five days ago), and nothing beats live U2.
My rating for U2 on The Tonight Show: 9 / 10