So, who saw U2 perform on Saturday Night Live last weekend? I was up and flipping around channels at the time, and came upon them in the middle of their unexpected third performance of the evening. I've since watched the complete performance of I Will Follow on the internet. You can see it here, apparently
For those who don't know, U2 were on Saturday Night Live last weekend and performed the usual two songs. Then, instead of a final awful sketch, the comedians said their good-nights to us and Bono ran over to the band and they played an "unscheduled" third song. I quote the word because, obviously the cast, crew and producers knew it was scheduled.
After seeing it, I gotta say, my respect for U2 continues to go up and up. Are they the greatest rock and roll band ever? For longevity and continued relevance, I think you gotta say they are.
Their performance of the song was not special, in and of itself. It was very good, yes. But if it was a great performance, it was so in its very ordinariness. It is what I would expect from U2. It was rock-steady and strong. It is what rock and roll should be like. The performance wasn't special, but the event was.
What made it special, of course, was this was U2's response to the hubbub surrounding SNL's previous two weeks' entertainers. The Ashlee Simpson lip-synch controversy two weeks ago, and Eminem's rapping along with his vocal track episode last week. This was U2 saying "look, here's how it's supposed to be done. We'll play one of our oldest songs, one we've played countless times, one we should be bored-shitless with, yet we're still ripping it as if it mattered". But doing so in a totally unpretentious (to me) manner.
LIke them or not, U2 is a Real Band, and they keep reminding us exactly what a real band is supposed to do: sing and play and feel the music and have a great time doing it. And in this world of pre-produced talent, that is becoming more and more a rare experience.