Over Adam Clayton melodic bass line and Larry Mullen Jr.’s dance-punk drum groove, Bono belted romantic pleas and self-deprecating jabs (“I’ll be crying out, how bad can a good time be?/ Shooting off my mouth, that’s another great thing about me/ I have everything, but I feel like nothing at all”). Meanwhile, the Edge dazzled with an array of guitar styles, including chunky barred chords and his signature echo, and harmonized in a boyish falsetto on the chorus.
In an interview with Fallon following the performance, Bono described the radio-friendly song, a sample of their upcoming LP Songs of Experience, as “punk-Motown” and “punk Supremes.””It’s defiant joy, we call it,” the singer continued. “It’s a love song to my Mrs., and in these difficult times it’s important to tell your loved ones how you feel.” The Edge added, “I think, maybe even more important than ever in these times, it’s important to have that joy because that’s the best response.”
The bandmates also discussed their foundation, Music Rising, which U2 created in 2005 to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina by purchasing new instruments for local musicians. “We … got a lot of musicians back to work, a lot of schools and churches back to providing music. And now we’re doing the same for Houston,” he said, referencing the city’s current devastation following Hurricane Harvey. The charity is accepting donations now at its official site.
Later in the interview, Bono criticized President Trump’s decision to “wind down” the DACA program, which protects protects roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children.
“Every night [on the 30th anniversary Joshua Tree tour], we’re reminded why we fell in love with this country,” the singer said. “And it’s not just a country – it’s an idea. It’s a great idea, one of the best ideas ever. But you can feel in recent times that idea get a bit twisted. And then you have the ‘dreamers.’ I mean, we’re Irish! We’re the ‘dreamers.’ This country was built for and by ‘dreamers.’ … If there’s no room for ‘dreamers,’ where are we in America? It’s the American dream!”
U2 also tapped into that political atmosphere with a rousing version of the atmospheric Joshua Tree rocker “Bullet the Blue Sky.” As the Edge unleashed an array of cinematic guitar effects, including feedback and wah-wah, Bono altered the lyrics to include a monologue with some overt allusions to the paranoia and insanity of modern America.
“Ground shakes, but the children can’t weep/ Vaporized in a single tweet/ The emperor rises from his golden throne/ Never knowing, never being known,” he intoned. “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.”