U2 Inaugurates the Most Spectacular Venue Created in Recent Years.
U2 has unveiled the most breathtaking venue to have been created in recent years worldwide, shaped like a gigantic “live” sphere.
More than thirty years have passed since the legendary “Zoo TV” tour, during which U2 promoted their album “Achtung Baby” and offered a highly advanced (for the ’90s) multimedia spectacle that made history. Whether using massive LED screens, 360-degree stages, giant lemons, or impressive multimedia “claws,” U2 has always aimed to be at the forefront of new technology. This time, they went far more sci-fi than expected.
Their concert last Saturday in Las Vegas took place in a highly anticipated venue that had just opened its doors and left jaws dropping. It is the epitome of technological excellence on every level. The word “spectacular” cannot fully describe the Las Vegas Sphere, this new “planet” of music and entertainment, with its spherical shape and top-tier sound and visuals. Social media posts about the Sphere left users astonished, with many feeling like they had been transported to another dimension.
The numbers are staggering for this spherical arena of music and entertainment. It cost $2.3 billion, has 18,000 seated places with sci-fi-designed seats and high-speed internet access, 160,000 speakers, and the world’s largest perimeter LED screen-dome. The Sphere stands at 112 meters (366 feet) in height and 157 meters (516 feet) in width at its widest point. It is the largest spherical building in the world, employing 3,000 staff members.
It comprises nine levels, including an underground level featuring a VIP club and a total of 23 suites on the third and fifth floors. The exterior shell of the Sphere boasts 54,000 square meters of LED screens, capable of displaying scenes from Mars or live contemporary artwork.
It all started as a sketch in James Dolan’s office. The Sphere began as a simple sketch in the office of James Dolan, the executive chairman of Madison Square Garden and owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers. It was a circle with a stick figure in the middle – a drawing we made as children, with five lines. In a notebook. That’s when the Sphere was born.
Billions of dollars later, his vision became a reality when U2’s “UV Achtung Baby” residency provided the inaugural event for this technological giant.
“This is a space designed for entertainment, not sports,” said U2’s guitarist, The Edge, in a recent interview with the Associated Press. He first learned about the groundbreaking venue when Bono sent him a link about the idea. Bono told him that the screen is 20 times larger than what U2 had on their “Joshua Tree” tour in 2019 – the last time U2 performed live in an arena. And it convinced him.
“Sports is a simple formula,” says The Edge, who is responsible for the band’s sound during live performances. “You want to see the action,” he continued. “But nobody, when designing one of these venues, thinks about the sound. In this space, it’s one of the first things they thought about.”
Here, the enormous spherical space, along with high-resolution LED screens, “wraps” around the audience. The venue is equipped with thousands of speakers, providing a “crystal-clear” multi-layered sound system, no matter where the audience is seated.
As a musician, The Edge believes that this venue’s idea is an “amazing thought” that helps artists like U2 capture the full essence of their sound. Now, audiences can literally be transported to another place and time through sound and visuals.
— U2 (@U2) September 30, 2023
“What we’re able to do, because of the design and the fidelity of the sound, is not just present the greatest-sounding rock ‘n’ roll band of all time in an enclosed space, but with an unprecedented intimacy. […] The world will be able to hear perfectly. Whereas if you try to do that in an arena or stadium, it would simply be impossible.”
Edge believes that U2’s performances at the Sphere could represent a “quantum leap forward” in how an audience experiences a live concert. “This is technology that was never available,” he said. “Now the audience won’t just be watching the show; they’ll feel like they’re in the middle of the show, inside the sound. The sound is all around you.”
From what we’ve seen on social media, the show concluded with “Elevation” and “Atomic City,” and Bono, akin to Elvis Presley, donned a white evening jacket in Las Vegas style. The otherworldly finale transported all spectators to the vast depths of the Mojave Desert (which was projected on the dome, leaving the audience awestruck), while the band played “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “With Or Without You,” and “Beautiful Day.”
U2, who recently released “Atomic City,” is excited to return to the stage for the first time in four years, especially after the pandemic. During these performances, they won’t have their drummer, Larry Mullen Jr., who is recovering from back surgery. In Mullen’s absence, Bram van den Berg has taken his place. They will give 25 performances at the Sphere, under the name “U2: UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere.”
The Sphere will primarily host award ceremonies and concerts, among other entertainment events.
Even Better Than the Real Thing
Until the End of the World
Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World
All I Want Is You
Angel of Harlem
Love Rescue Me
Love Is Blindness
Where the Streets Have No Name
With or Without You