How far the mighty have fallen. They have not tried to touch the sun, they have coursed right into it, cracking out their best work for an album that provides absolutely nothing of worth. Songs of Surrender may tarnish the reputation of U2, but the individual qualities present are still hopeful. Bono still has a grand voice; The Edge is still brushing through with strong and innovative guitar charms. A Sort of Homecoming, a Disney puff piece that uses fellow legend David Letterman to try and puff up U2 as they revisit their songs. Their attempts at defending the reimagining of their work are of little use because it makes no sense. But U2 has not made sense for some time.
Stripping away the artifice by shoving it full of violins and string sections is a fascinating bait and switch. Morgan Neville has many talents behind him, and plenty of projects that make him the perfect piece for a documentary on vague and mysterious characters. But when paired with a duo that is so constant with what is released on their public image, it is futile. Letterman is attempting, trying his absolute best to push on through but Bono, as he draws a map and shyly, weakly tries to explain religious sectarianism, is embarrassing. Contrived, confusing and just shambolic in how it flickers from topic to topic. U2 were not a part of the history before the band, but they believe they are.
A Sort of Homecoming shows that Ireland means a lot to U2 but U2 means a lot to Ireland. Having to understand where their place in history falls is a whole new challenge though. Neville tries and fails to tie the woes of Ireland into the fabric of what U2 try to do with their latest album, a project they appear committed to not one bit throughout this documentary. Songs are the currency of the soul. U2 are bankrupt. If they believe a recollection of their old efforts, and newer tracks, covered with less power behind them and a soppy and simplistic understanding of what processes the emotions of a track, then they are far closer to their end than first thought. Glen Hansard from Once is on hand to provide moments of brief narration or attempted explanation from whatever withering experiments and words Bono and The Edge have.
More than anything it shows U2 are just a boring entity that is attempting to coast off their former successes. Why else would they throw out an album under the guise of revisiting what they already got away with? They have not gone back to the beginning. How can a band go back to the beginning when they rattle through some of their most recent tracks? Walk On is not exactly a legacy definer. Disastrous because of how clunky and choreographed the whole experience is, Bono and The Edge do not come off as genuine, even if their musical talents are still there. Contrived stars, nodding dog talking heads and a cracking selection of songs mused on through sheer care for themselves and nothing more.