Watch Bono perform beautiful solo rendition of U2 ballad 'With Or Without You'

7 November 2022, 16:25 | Updated: 31 January 2024, 16:49

Bono has reimagined U2's epic rock ballad 'With Or Without You' for US television.
Bono has reimagined U2's epic rock ballad 'With Or Without You' for US television. Picture: CBS

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

U2 are undoubtedly one of the world's biggest ever rock bands.

And to be one of the greatest rock bands that ever existed, you need to have some equally great songs.

That's something Bono has based his career on - writing some of the most anthemic, heart-wrenching rock songs of the past forty years.

The U2 singer and founding member recently admitted that he's "embarrassed" by some of the band's music and that he only "recently" learned to sing in a voice he doesn't hate.

Of late, Bono has begun to reevaluate the music he's written over the years and the result is his memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.

His new book is split into 40 separate chapters, each of which delve into a specific U2 song about how the song came to be.

And the Irish rock legend has shared the story of the band's ballad 'With Or Without You' in a special one-off performance.

"With or Without You" - Bono

Appearing on his first ever late night show on US television, an entire episode of Stephen Colbert's The Late Show was dedicated to Bono.

And to repay the good faith, he treated the audience to a unique rendition of 'With Or Without You', the iconic song from U2's classic 1986 album The Joshua Tree.

The album topped the UK and US album charts upon its original release, and won numerous awards.

The Joshua Tree received four Grammy Award nominations for the album, winning honours for Album of the Year and beating artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and Whitney Houston in the process.

'With Or Without You' being the lead single topped the US Billboard charts and the charts in their homeland of Ireland.

"This is not exactly rock n’ roll, but this is my new book, and if you let me just tell you a story of how we got to this song, that would be great."

"Are you up for that?" Bono politely asks Colbert's studio audience.

He began his performance with a three-minute spoken word piece that shed light on the song's origins before moving into a "special arrangement" of the rock ballad.

Accompanied by only a cellist, a harpist, and a drummer, Bono's heart is truly on his sleeve with the focus almost solely on the lyrics of the song.

In High School, Bono Met His U2 Bandmates And His Future Wife In The Same Week

Before his gorgeous performance, Bono discusses his book - his first ever - and the history of U2 and how they came to be.

He met his bandmates and his future wife in the same week during high school, saying simply: "Yeah, it was a big week."

Bono also touched on various topics with Stephen Colbert, notably the state of the United States ahead of their mid-term election and his love for The Beatles.

"I’m really encouraged by this idea that America doesn’t exist yet,” Bono explained. "It’s the greatest idea the world has ever had, but I don’t think it’s here yet. And that’s an amazing feeling, that’s it just being written, and far from recorded."

Bono: America Doesn't Yet Exist

Bono: Improvisation Is At The Heart Of What U2 Does

In terms of his adoration for The Beatles, he talks about seeing Peter Jackson's 2021 documentary Get Back for the first time and being blown away by the band's songwriting and the similarities with U2's chemistry.

"Who knew the Beatles created reality TV? Microphones in the flower pots," Bono said. "You’re hearing them write these songs."

"Improvisation is at the heart of what U2 does, even though there’s a formal songwriting that we do, Edge and myself" he continued.

Bono will be sharing more insight into U2's body of work and how it came to be with audiences on his 'Stories of SURRENDER' book tour across North America and Europe in the coming months.