Season two of Elvis Costello’s musically-driven interview series (Dec. 11 at 10 p.m., CTV ) starts with one of the biggest “gets” in the industry: Bono and the Edge of U2. For an hour in Toronto’s Masonic Temple they chatted about everything from the first time the three of them met nearly three decades ago to the spectacle that was Bono singing Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad to Frank Sinatra in a Mexican restaurant.
Usually Bono and the Edge are interviewed by awestruck hosts trying to play it cool. Elvis Costello’s advantage is that he is cool, and a colleague not a fan. He was a star when U2 was just starting out, and delights in showing a 1981 playbill with Elvis Costello and the Attractions as the top act and U2 as an unknown act out of Dublin. That, and other, touches of musical history knowledge turns this 60-minute Q&A session into a funny intimate conversation, complete with riveting musical interludes.
The genius of having a host like Costello was apparent from the start: half way through singing a rough-and-ready version of Mysterious Ways, Costello starts talking: “Long ago, giants and monsters walked the Earth. There were Beatles, there were Stones and an iron butterfly. There were the Who, the what and the why and a Zeppelin of Led. And the faithful worshipped at their feet. But in time giants grow old and the people ask ‘Who shall join their company? Who shall climb up and take their place on the mountain?’ Four lads pushed their way to the front of the line and said: ‘Let us try to go up the mountain…’ ”
From that wildly original introduction the three chums meander through how they “assemble” songs, learning to really play music only after they hit the big times and how the notoriously-tight band has stayed together while so many others have splintered. U2 are the biggest musical act in the world, but they still like talking craft with a fellow musician. And for an hour, we all get to eavesdrop.