Former President Bill Clinton, Tom Hanks and U2 guitarist The Edge were among his famous admirers in the audience, which often stood and cheered and sang along. For the 90-minute plus "Stories of Surrender" show, billed as "an evening of words, music, and some mischief," Bono wore a plain black blazer, matching pants and added color with his orange-tinted glasses. He opened with an account from his book of his heart surgery in 2016, but otherwise pranced and leapt like a man who had never seen the inside of a hospital and belted out songs written decades ago without any sense he had forgotten what inspired them.
Ticket prices for the sold out show reached rock star levels as some web sites offered scalped seats for $2,000 and higher. Compared to a U2 show, the setting was relatively intimate — handwritten illustrations on screens hanging toward the back of the stage and a few tables and chairs that Bono used as props to climb on or to simulate conversations. With warm and comic mimicry, he recalled phone calls with Luciano Pavarotti and his pleas of "Bono, Bono, Bono" as the opera star recruited him to perform at a benefit show in Modena, Italy, and once turned up at U2's studio on short notice — with a film crew.
Bono also re-enacted his many tense bar room meetings with his father, who seemed to regard his son's career as some kind of failed business venture. Brendan Robert Hewson's rough facade did collapse once, unexpectedly — when he met Princess Diana, an encounter Bono described as like watching centuries of Irish loathing of the royals "gone in eight seconds."
“One princess, and we're even,” Bono added.
He spoke often of loss, of his mother when he was a teenager and of his father in 2001. But he also described his life as a story of presence, whether of his religious faith, his wife and children, or of his bandmates. After what he called the characteristic Irish response to a child's outsized ambitions — to pretend they don't exist — he called himself “blessed,” and added that “what was silence has been filled, mostly, with music.”