In May, while I was in Los Angeles to see the U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017 shows at the Rose Bowl, I had the opportunity to witness something very special. Thanks to a very special person, I was able to get a front row seat to see a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Jimmy’s only guests for the night were U2, who happened to be making their only television appearance to promote their Joshua Tree anniversary tour.
Jimmy Kimmel Live broadcasts from the El Capitan Theater which is located in the heart of the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. The location added to my excitement as I made my way to the theater through the unique cast of characters that included superheroes parading alongside tourists and street vendors hawking fidget spinners.
After passing through show security and enjoying a Guinness in the VIP lounge, I was escorted into the studio. Upon entering, I immediately noticed how very small the studio is compared to its appearance on television. Even with the extra row of seats added for the big show, the total capacity was approximately 115. As I sat down in my front row seat next to Cleto and the Cletones, the house band, it suddenly hit me that this was going to be a very intimate event.
After Jimmy finished his opening monologue, Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry came out and sat on the couch to discuss a number of stories that reflected back on U2’s long career. They also touched on the subject of the previous day’s bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. “Manchester has an undefeatable spirit, I can assure you,” Bono added to which the audience responded with a big cheer.
During the final interview segment, as the band discussed the Joshua Tree’s iconic visuals, the band got up suddenly, Larry pushed away Jimmy’s desk and the band launched into a surprise performance of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Much to the surprise of everyone, about half way through the song, a local choir, comprised of different audience members planted throughout the studio, joined in. At the end of the song, everyone in the theater was clapping and singing along as loud as they could.
U2 closed out the show by performing their new song they recently debuted on tour called “The Little Things That Give You Away.” I had heard the new song for the first time as the band closed out their show with the song at the Rose Bowl two nights earlier. It will be included on their upcoming album “Songs of Experience” which, hopefully, will be out soon.
After the show, I made my way over to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and found that a number of the audience members had done the same. As I sat down at the bar, the couple next to me recognized me from having been at the show as well. We shared our thoughts on what we’d just witnessed and agreed that it was a surreal experience we’ll never forget.