Stephen Colbert kicked things off right in his premier as host of The Late Show as band leader Jon Batiste and Stay Human led an all-star cast consisting of blues and R&B legends Buddy Guy and Mavis Staples as well as newer acts including Alabama Shakes' frontwoman Brittany Howard, St. Paul and the Broken Bones frontman Paul Geneway, Ben Folds, Derek Trucks, Aloe Blacc, Kyle Resnick, Susan Tedeschi and Colbert himself, in a rendition of Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People" that set the tone for the shows to come.
The entire episode was a spectacle to behold as Colbert came dancing in, taking shots at Donald Trump, forcing Bush to talk policy differences between him and his presidential brother George and promoting a fake Clooney movie. The superjam at the end capped it all off with a performance that spells out the philosophy Colbert is bringing to the show.
"Everyday People" isn't just a great song, it's a message about Colbert's approach to his guests. His guests are actors, musicians, authors, celebrities, cultural icons and politicians, but at the end of the day, they are everyday people. At the same time, he's going to treat these celebrities like everyday people and not be intimidated to ask harder questions of them or call them out on their spin and BS. Maybe most importantly though, Colbert, Batiste and his team are also everyday people who are going to have a ton of fun on this show as they dance, sing, laugh, play and work through five shows a week.
Colbert knows the importance of symbols and metaphors - he uses them every day to make some of the most intelligent and accessible political commentary on TV - and he used a big one to set the tone of his show last night.