Bono at the Beacon Theatre
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2022-11-03)
The first night of Bono’s “Stories of Surrender” tour kicked off at the Beacon Theatre this evening, a small theatre, holding just 2894 people at capacity. Bono was performing and joining him on stage was Kate Ellis on cello, and Jacknife Lee on keyboards and percussion, and Gemma Doherty on backing vocals, harp and keyboard.
Merchandise for the evening includes three different tote bags ($30), T-shirts ($45), posters ($25), and a set of four pins ($15). The tote is a different tote than the one given out last month at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. The two black shirts included one with a picture like the book cover, and the other is a graphic drawn by bono. One of the totes is black and one is yellow. The poster is for the entire tour.
The show started at 8:31 and ran until 10:27pm. The music ahead of the performance was from Bono’s “60 Songs that Saved My Life” playlist that he put together for his 60th birthday in 2020. Bono took the stage after the Human League’s “Empire State Human” played over the PA which was not part of his 2020 playlist.
Special guests this evening include Gavin Friday, who has been working with Bono on the show, Paul McGuinness, the former manager of U2, longtime collaborator, photographer Anton Corbijn and President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner, and Interscope founder Jimmy Iovine. From Bono’s immediate family, his wife Ali, his daughters Eve and Jordan, his son John, and his brother Norman were all in attendance. The Edge from U2 was also in attendance, and did not perform. Celebrities in attendance included Rocky O’Riordan, Andy Cohen, Woody Harrelson, Gayle King, Helena Christensen, Ed Burns, Christie Turlington, Michael Stipe, Bill Flanagan, Julian Schnabel, Mark Zuckerberg, Regine Chassagne and Win Butler from Arcade Fire, and Tom Hanks.
The show is a mix of songs from the book, as well as stories shared in the book. At the end before the encore Bono sang “Torna a Surriento”. The encore featured a second short reprise performance of “City of Blinding Lights” where he noted the Clintons were in the audience. “Stories for Boys” is making an appearance here for the first time since the U2360 tour when it appeared as a snippet but the last time it was played in full was back in 1982, tonight it is a shortened version, just under two minutes, but more than a snippet. “Miss Sarajevo”, “Gloria”, “October” all made appearances in instrumental form this evening as well, appearing in the lead in to other parts of the show. A snippet of The Ramones’ “Glad to See You Go” appeared ahead of “Out of Control” and a snippet of “Money Money” from Cabaret appeared in “Desire”.
During the show Bono addressed being out on tour by himself. He shared he had permission of all of his band mates to take the show on the road, and was encouraged to do so. He even turned to The Edge to confirm that from the audience. “Isn’t that right The Edge?” He also spoke about Willie Williams having his touring budget cut, mentioning instead of a big U2 production, the budget cut back means he gets a table and chairs.
Dramatic readings included pieces about his marriage to Ali, and moving into their home, his open heart surgery, early days of the band recording, Paul McGuinness as U2’s “representative on earth” and more. Many of these are punctuated with music behind the speaking. The piece about Bono and Ali is underscored by the instrumental start of “With or Without You” on cello and keyboard. During the piece between “With or Without You” and “Out of Control” a bit of Verdi can be heard playing as he speaks about his father. Bono also sings along to a recording of the Ramone’s “Glad to See You Go” and later in the show we can hear Pavarotti’s vocal on “Miss Sarajevo”.
An instrumental with backing vocals for “Stories for Boys” can be heard later in the show under Bono talking, with Bono coming in on lyrics for the last 30 seconds of the minute-and-a-half song. “I Will Follow” is heard in the background building up for two and a half minutes under Bono’s words discussing recording the track, and reading the lyrics, but stops just as the song would kick in.
“Iris” features Gemma Doherty on vocals throughout another mostly spoken word performance by Bono over the music of the song. Doherty can also be heard singing “Gloria”, but we list it as a non-Bono performance, as although he speaks over top of the music and Doherty’s vocals, he does not speak or read any of the lyrics from the song. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” engages the crowd in a beautiful rendition of the song, and voices throughout the theatre swelled up to sing along, answering Bono’s singing of the title. Doherty returns on backing vocals for a version of “Pride (In the Name of Love)” with Bono on the lead, and she leads the crowd in a sing-along to the “oh-oh-oh-oh” ending of the song.
“Desire” features a snippet from Cabaret with Bono singing “money makes the world go round” lyrics from “Money Money” over the outro of the song. Some of the songs are quite short. “Stories for Boys” is about 1:30 in length, but only about 30 seconds of Bono singing. “Where the Streets Have No Name” is sung, but is only about 2:00 in total. A few songs such as “Vertigo” “With or Without You” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” have more fleshed out versions playing full versions of the song. “Beautiful Day” is one of those full songs, reimagined on piano and drums and strings tonight. The main performance ends with Bono singing “Torna a Surriento” after talking about his father. After a few minutes away, he returns to do a full version of “City of Blinding Lights”.
The event was a phone free event, and phones were collected once in the venue. Prior to this point a staff member was writing down seat information on a green ticket, and the green ticket is also used to claim your copy of Bono’s book “Surrender” inside the event. (The book is unsigned.) Signs were posted outside the venue warning that there is a film shoot underway, and that parking is limited in some areas. The name of the project? “BT – Bono”.
The last time Bono was on stage at the Beacon Theatre was in 2011 for the Tony Awards, but he did not perform, only introducing a song from the Spider-Man musical. (Accompanied by The Edge)
Many thanks to Tracy, Michelle, Kelly, Karen, Selene, Alison, Allison, Valerie, Dahna and Jesse for the updates above.
The show was reviewed in USA Today, with Ralphie Aversa sharing “U2 lead singer Bono recalled a lifetime’s worth of stories in perhaps the performance of a lifetime Wednesday night” and “the singer spent nearly two hours on stage, encore included, seamlessly weaving stories from his memoir into the anthems that made him a household name. It was a tightly scripted show, yet the performance offered a level of intimacy fans of U2 may never experience at a typical concert.”
The tour was arranged by the publisher of Surrender and Live Nation. Tickets for the event went on sale at 10am on Friday, October 7. U2.com subscribers who were paid subscribers prior to the tour announcement had entry to a presale one day earlier on October 6. Tickets ranged from $61 – $256 in the sale, and dynamic pricing was not in effect for these ticket sales. Tickets were secure mobile tickets only, and each purchase has a delayed delivery, and was not issued until 72 hours prior to the event. There was a two ticket limit per person for this show. Each ticket purchased came with a copy of Bono’s memoir, Surrender. For the New York event these copies of the book are given out at the venue and can be picked up upon entrance.For the full show details, including set list, please check the following show listing: