U2 Live from London Special First Airing

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-12-17)

Tonight, Canada network CTV is showing a special presentation, “U2: Live from London”. While originally advertised as being aired at 10pm ET, a last minute change in scheduling saw it air in the Atlantic Region and Montreal at 7pm ET instead.

The content of the show is the performance that U2 recorded on November 16, 2017 at the Abbey Road Studios in London, England. Accompanying U2 is a chorus, and a 38 piece orchestra.

During the program six shows were shown in full from this performance:

  • “Beautiful Day” (with a snippet of Bowie’s “Starman”)
  • “Lights of Home”
  • “With or Without You” (with a snippet of Joy Divisions “Love Will Tear Us Apart”)
  • “Get Out of Your Own Way”
  • “One” (with the “No them there’s only us” ending)
  • “Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way” (with a “All You Need is Love” snippet and a opening snippet of “Father And Son” by Cat Stevens)

In the original performance, the band also performed “All I Want is You” with a snippet of “Walk to the Water” which has been used for previews of the performance, but that performance was not part of the special shown in Canada, which ran about 45 minutes with commercial breaks.

There were only two very short interview sessions with Cat Deeley filmed at Abbey Road. In the initial set, Cat interviewed all four members of the band, and in the second section she only interviewed Larry and Adam. We did see one segment from her time with the band in Sao Paulo, but we did not see the clips where she goes record shopping with the band, or where she asks who packs the luggage, both used for promotion of the BBC show.

The special opens with Bono, Adam and The Edge entering Abbey Road. Bono enters through the front door, while Adam and The Edge have to use a side door. In the later interview clip with Cat Deeley Bono tells a story of how Paul McCartney told them that they had to enter by the tradesman’s entrance when they started going to Abbey Road, and it was only later in their career they were allowed to use the front door.

Bono speaks about how the idea of doing a full night with a 38-piece orchestra seems a little self-indulgent. But that doesn’t stop them. “Beautiful Day” uses the chorus effectively for the “see the lights” mid section of the song. “Lights of Home” see the orchestra lit by bare light bulbs, and opens with Edge on acoustic before later switching out to electric, while Adam took an opportunity to sit like he did on this past tour for “Red Hill Mining Town”. Bono breaks into a lovely snippet of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” during “With or Without You” but his voice sounded a bit strained.

In the introduction to “Lights of Home” and “Get Out of Your Own Way” as well as in the interview with Deeley Bono speaks about the idea that many of the songs on the album are letters to people. At the start of “Get Out of Your Own Way” the Edge asks for some pyro, and Bono has to disappoint him telling him there will be no pyro. Bono gets the megaphone out for the ending of “Get Out of Your Own Way,” but it is not the megaphone he sometimes uses with MacPhisto inside. The megaphone comes out again during “One” as Bono sings the “No them, there’s only us” lines of the song.

“One” is introduced as a song the band wrote in Germany as walls were coming down, that they now had to sing as walls were going up. The final song aired on CTV was “Love is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way” and introducing it Bono offers some advice, “Find a girl, settle down, get married, look at me, I’m old, but I’m happy” which is taken from Cat Steven’s “Father And Son”. The song includes a snippet of the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”

The one and only clip of Cat Deeley in Brazil with the band starts out with the band taking her to see graffiti and rapidly being surrounded by fans. They move inside to a furniture shop, where Bono and Larry have some fun pretending to be on phone calls, and then we see a shot of the crowd running into the stadium. Cat is joined backstage by The Edge and Adam for a backstage tour. Edge’s dinner of meatballs is waiting so Adam shows her around, and telling her that soccer stadiums typically have a strong smell of men, which he’s not particularly fond of so they have the dressing rooms “fumigated” and put up nice curtains.

Adam shows off Larry’s 28-inch waist jeans, and his own kimono, before The Edge returns to take Cat on a tour of the underworld, where she asks why he has so much more space than the rest of the band. He explains he has six strings and Adam only has four, so it’s obvious he needs the space. He then takes her on stage to the approval of the roaring crowd. And then we see the band walk out on stage, and the start of the performance of “Where the Streets Have No Name” in Brazil.

The first interview session at Abbey Road with the whole band includes Cat asking who picks the set list (Larry offers that he lets the scientist do it, and points to The Edge), and a discussion of the letters concept, and some discussion of the Beatles and Abbey Road. During the second interview session with just Bono and The Edge, they talk about the new album and how it is a second part to Songs of Innocence, and Bono says that they have a much bigger audience since Apple gave away the album in 2014. Bono said their only mistake was that instead of leaving the bottle of milk outside the door, they let themselves in and poured it right into the cornflakes.

Embedded below is the preview for the BBC special, with the band performing “All I Want is You”, which was not featured in tonight’s presentation on CTV in Canada. That suggests there may be differences between what was used by CTV and what will air on the BBC on Tuesday night.

The special will air on CTV in Central Canada at 10pm ET tonight, and in Western Canada at 10pm MT tonight. The special “U2 At the BBC” will air on December 19, 2017 on the BBC in the UK and other countries at 9pm GMT in a one hour format, and again on December 28, 2017 at 11:10pm GMT with an additional fifteen minutes. The special will air on Ireland on the RTE on December 26, 2017, at 11:00pm GMT, and will air on Movistar in Spain, on December 31, 2017 at 11:10pm CET.

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