Bono films “Stories of Surrender” in New York
Original Story (2023-05-09)
This article is about a show which just ended, and may be undergoing revision.
On April 22, 2023, a special show to cap off Bono’s 11 night run at the Beacon Theatre was announced. The show, which will be open to an invited group of fans, will be filmed at the Beacon Theatre. The special show is free of charge, and fans who are members of U2.com were notified how to apply to be considered for tickets to the filming event through a company called 1iota. A show in Naples, Italy, a few days later on May 13 will also be filmed. The shows are being filmed for a streaming service, and it is not known if there will be a home video release outside of the streaming platform. The director for the film is Andrew Dominik, an Australian director born in New Zealand, who has worked with Nick Cave in the past, as well as other artists, as well as the films Chopper (2000), Blonde (2022) and Killing Them Softly (2012). Dominik directed fans at the Beacon during this special performance, and was introduced during the day.
An email went out to U2.com subscribers announcing the show: “Exciting news! On Tuesday, May 9th Bono will undertake a very special invite-only stand-alone performance at the Beacon Theatre – the legendary New York venue that is also home to the current 11-date Spring run of ‘Stories of Surrender’ – which will be filmed as part of an upcoming film project.” The email also included an access code needed to enter the queue to apply for one or two tickets to the show. Tickets were handled via 1Iota.com which also does ticketing for a number of television shows, and other special projects in New York City and around the USA. Tickets are free of charge and also non-transferable. We’ll fill in more information later, but the ticketing process did not go smoothly for many fans, but The Beacon Theatre did go out with printed tickets after the fans lined up were let in, helping many others get in at the end.
Although doors opened at 12:30, the performances actually started around 2:40pm in the afternoon. “Empire State Human” preceded the live songs, as it does in the show itself. The recording session today is focused on the songs themselves, and less so on the stories between the songs. Today opens with work on the show with the cameras on the stage, and then they repeat later in the afternoon with the cameras from an audience perspective, with some additional repeats of some of the songs. The backing banners we’ve grown accustomed to during on stage during these shows have been replaced by a light wall behind Bono. The crowd are told that the full show is not being done, and they can’t get what they want without some participation, telling the crowd “when there are opportunities to sing along, take them!”
There were multiple run downs of some songs, including two performances of “Where the Streets Have No Name” back to back in the first set, and additional performance of “Iris” after the first “Beautiful Day”, a second performance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” after “Beautiful Day” as well, ending the first segment, but Bono would soon return and do a second version of “City of Blinding Lights” before taking another lengthy break. Some of the discussion between song was also done. After “Vertigo” for instance, Bono did his outsized props bit mentioning, “a giant claw, space station, mirror ball lemon, and I see a spherical object in our future.” With several breaks, the performance element of the show took about 2.5 hours. The crowd are filmed singing “Happy Birthday” as well.
Bono is chatty and enjoying interacting with the fans. On an early take of “Iris” he asks if he can do the song again but wants the crowd to sing with him, he wants to hear their voices on the song. Throughout the show Bono frequently stops to ask direction, where they want him on stage, where he should us the wireless microphone vs a hand held. He’s taking direction from Dominik (who he refers to as God, the voice in his ear), Jacknife Lee and the audience throughout.
In the second run through, like the first, the focus is on the songs, although there are some elements of the stories as well, including some work done on the Pavarotti story which Bono shares. He also works in a snippet of Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” when doing “Desire”. Another musical adventure comes in the form of David Essex’ “Hold Me Close”. After one of the performances of “Iris” there was some time before additional footage was to be shot, Bono sat, and shared with the audience that the song by Essex had inspired “Iris” in some places, and that the song had been popular at the time when his mother had died, and always took him back to that period when he hears it.
“Crumbs from Your Table” is included in the introduction to “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Money Money” is included in “Desire” in both the first and second run throughs.
After he is told that they are finished for what they need, Bono offers up a gift, telling the crowd about “Torna a Surriento” and the plans to film that piece in Italy at the end of the week. At first he doesn’t seem convinced he is going to do it, talking about the song. But Jacknife Lee eggs Bono on, convincing Bono to ask the crowd if they would like to hear it, to a resounding cheer. He does take some time to gather himself before doing “Torna a Surriento” which he has been performing at the end of each show. The crowd return the favour singing another “Happy Birthday” to Bono at the end. (It is Bono’s birthday the day after this filming.)
Throughout the show the screens behind Bono were black with white lights. They were mostly used to display simple patterns such as boxes and lines, although for “Desire” the screen did display dollar signs.
Pre-show while fans waited, a mix of songs from Bono’s “60 Songs That Saved my Life” playlist made an appearance on the PA as fans waited, including Madonna’s “Ray of Light”, Bowie’s “Heroes”, the Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday”, Sinead O’Connor’s “You Made Me The Thief of Your Heart”, Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”, Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way”, Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and John Lennon’s “Mother” among others.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed information today. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks for letting us have a peek inside. Specific thanks to Elysia, Thomas, Michael, Ralph, Michelle, Kelly, Jason, Allison, Jesse and Joseph for their contributions here.For the full show details, including set list, please check the following show listing: