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U2 Rocks SNL’s House

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:: What a difference two weeks make. Two weeks ago, Ashlee Simpson reduced the musical history of Saturday Night Live to one of its lowest points ever. Last week, Modest Mouse brought the level back up to where it belongs, enough to convince me to purchase their new and second newest albums. Tonight, U2 raised the bar much higher. I finished watching the east coast feed of SNL, the actual “live” broadcast, which I can watch at 9:30 pm here in Edmonton, because I have digital cable which carries the Detroit NBC affiliate. U2 opened with Vertigo, followed with a brilliant and moving ballad from the new album (don’t know the name yet), and closed the show by bringing the house down with “I Will Follow”. Rarely do bands perform three songs on SNL (I can think of Springsteen, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and Paul Simon – there are probably a handful of others.)

I felt exhilarated watching them perform on the show. During the closing number, the entire cast of SNL was off to the right, watching, enthralled and entranced, smiling broadly, almost in disbelief that U2 was actually performing in their house. I taped the show, and rewound to watch them perform again afterwards. Three amazing performances, inspiring to watch and experience. A great band, about to hit the top again. Last Sunday, Jon Parales, writing in the NYTimes, suggested that How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is the best album of their 25-year career.

What dumbfounds me is that Lorne Michaels presents us with top notch bands like U2 and Modest Mouse, but counters with absolute assembly line shyte like Simpson. Perhaps U2’s performance will encourage him to book top-notch high quality bands that actually perform live, well crafted, original music on a live show, and that haul ass while doing it. HTDATB will hit #1 within days of its release on Tuesday. Its purchase will be an antidote if you will, to help me forget about the upcoming result of our forthcoming provincial coronation election on Monday.

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About Randy Reichardt

  • I couldn’t agree more! In fact, you’ll find my thoughts on the same thing a few inches below yours. We probably posted minutes apart. I just went back up and watched it again in video.

    This performance may not get the outside publicity that the Ashlee Simpson debacle got, but SNL fans will talk about this as the greatest night of rock to grace their stage.

  • I could really feel that Bono was trying to prove something tonight. He kept yelling ‘live, live, we are live right now’. It’s as if he wasn’t just trying to differentiate between his band and the Simpson thing… but to re-establish and rebuild the very name of live televised rock and roll.

    Yeah, he took care of that part nicely. He also seemed to change many of the words to ‘I will follow’, but I was pretty giddy and the song is about 25 years old > so I may have heard wrong.

    honestly, I’d like to see the whole ‘music’ column light up tonight with the U2 experience.

  • Agree and agree, Lono! What an amazing triple play tonight, and you’re right (from your review), I forgot to mention that they began a fourth song as the show signed off.

    I hadn’t considered that Bono’s repeating of “live, live, live” might have been a reference to Simpson. I think he may have been caught up in the moment.

    You’re also right – many people are sick of Bono. Well, they can take a hike for now. This is quality, gutsy, heartfelt music, and I think music fans are starved for something original and pulse pounding, and from performers who value what they do. We so badly need a break from the Simpsons, the Spears, boy bands, and the like.

  • Eric Olsen

    great job Randy and totally agree with everything you said – “Vertigo” was absolutely stunning. We fell asleep before “I Will Follow,” I feel like a fool

  • Eric Olsen

    one more thing, in reponse to your last paragraph: bands like U2 don’t grow on trees, and the show’s promotions and marketing people, as well as Budweiser who sponsor the music segment, have as much say as Michaels into who performs. In fact, he probably just has veto and not that much else to do with the selections.

    But I hope you’re right that they will see the benefits of real performances by real bands – you can just FEEL the difference

  • Eric: Good point, it hadn’t occurred to me that the selection of the musical guest wasn’t only Lorne Michaels’ choice. That might explain the musical shyte like Ashlee Simpson.

  • Eric Olsen


  • Loretta

    I would like a copy of the Saturday Night Live with U2 that just aired.
    if anyone knows how I might get this please email me. Thanks

  • Mike R.

    I didn’t get to see all the performances of U2 that evening, but I knew something was up when I saw them CLOSE with a classic. I don’t care what people say about Bono and U2, they really have an awesome quality about them. I don’t think they were ASKED to play any extra tunes during the broadcast. When a band like U2 plays…you just let ’em! Myself…I’m dyin’ to find out what the 4th song was before SNL cutaway. I have to say, I haven’t been excited about any bands on SNL in recent years. I think it was almost refreshing to see a band as big as U2 to just play more songs for the hell of it…just because it’s what they enjoy doing. While other bands seem to wanna be someplace else. Great job SNL and U2!!! I just wish SNL could’ve stayed on for about 5 minutes more!!!

  • The video of this was on YouTube for a while, but they took it down (of course).

    Does anybody know where I can get a copy of it?