Bono Recalls Withering Heckle From An Early U2 Show

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

November 8, 2022

Photo: Getty Images North America

U2 frontman Bono looked back on his band's awkward fit in the late-'70s punk scene in a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Prompted about some of his early influences as a frontman, Bono named singer/songwriter Patti Smith and actor Mark Rylance, whom he feels were adept at challenging the conventional barriers between performer and audience.

The idea of a performer being "above everyone else" was one Bono rejected early on, along with the rest of the punk scene of the day. But no matter the band's values, U2's sound never lived up to the other important character of punk rock: the aggression. And other punks were happy to speak their minds about it, whether they were onstage or in the pit.

"Somebody did shout at any early show, '[There's] More punk in The Monkees,'" the singer recalled.

After briefly explaining the reference to the famous American sitcom band-turned-real band, Bono continued: "It was just a heckle. And so we weren't really convincing as a punk band because we were children. But those values were and are still at the core of who we are."

Further prodded about 'punk rock values,' Bono offered a window into his career of philanthropy and political action.

"I think to understand that you came out of the audience, that you were there with them, for them. I would say, also, we had in punk this idea that music can change the world, and you can have fun. That was a sort of feeling in punk rock music. That the world is more malleable than you think; you can bend it and shape it. It's not set. That idea: three chords, you say your truth, speak your truth, spit it out."

Watch the full sit-down with Colbert via the player above.

Bono's memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, is available now. Go here for more details.

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