U2 perform on The Tonight Show and debut The Best Thing live
Today U2 performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. They performed two songs, and Bono and Edge had a chat with Fallon.
One song, as foreshadowed by U2.com, was the live debut of new single You're the Best Thing About Me. U2 are no strangers to debuting songs on Fallon's show, having done so in 2014 with Invisible and Ordinary Love. Watch The Best Thing below:
But before playing the new song, U2 unleashed an old one, something never before performed on a TV show: Bullet the Blue Sky. The only other time Bullet has been performed outside of a full tour date, or a public rehearsal for a full tour, was at Dreamfest last year, when it received a fiery political treatment. Today's version was, if anything, even more fiery. Bono modified the lyrics to refer to Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un; visuals behind the band depicted the American and North Korean flags, trucks carrying missiles, and North Korean soldiers marching in formation.
U2.com have shared the new lyrics; here are some highlights, with the grammar cleaned up a bit:
Suit and tie comes up to me
Face orange as a rose on a thorn bush
Skin as thin as orange crush
Ground shakes but the children can’t weep
Vapourised in a single tweet
The emperor rises from his golden throne
Never knowing, never being known
The lights are on; the President's home
Oh my god, I’ve never felt so alone
Outside, it's America
Outside, it's America
Before the first solo, Bono sang the melody of The Star-Spangled Banner and then, during the solo, snippeted Edwin Starr's War. After "outside it's America" he briefly snippeted America from West Side Story. You can watch the full performance here:
When Bono and Edge chatted with Fallon, Bono restated his criticisms of Trump and Kim, remarking that "it's dangerous out there. You have a little emperor there with a bad haircut and his finger on the nuclear arsenal and a lot of people in silly costumes following him around—and then you have the dude from North Korea." He also spoke about Trump's intention to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, the beneficiaries of which are known as Dreamers; he referred to the Irish as Dreamers of a previous era of American history, as he did at the Buffalo concert.
On a lighter note, Fallon told the story of how Bono almost failed to bring him on-stage for their planned performance of Desire on 22 July 2015. Bono spoke about The Best Thing, describing it as "punk Motown ... punk Supremes, defiant joy". Edge added that in times like the present it is important to have joy, and he talked about his work with Music Rising and how music helps communities heal after disasters. When asked about Songs of Experience, Edge confirmed that it is finished. Here are two clips from the interview:
Our database entry for this show is here.