A Super Bowl commercial confirmed today what has long been suspected: U2 will take up residency in the brand-new MSG Sphere in Las Vegas for an immersive show that mines the band’s catalog.
U2 has been in a retrospective mood of late. Lead singer Bono has been making the rounds to promote his memoir, Surrender. On Friday, the band will release its long-awaited Songs Of Surrender ― a collection of 40 songs from across the band’s catalog, re-recorded and reimagined. And now, the band has confirmed the Vegas residency that will be focused on one of its most iconic albums.
Dubbed “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere,” the residency will celebrate the band’s darker, post-Joshua Tree turn that resulted in the 1991 album Achtung Baby and hits like “One,” “Mysterious Ways,” “The Fly” and “Even Better Than The Real Thing.”
The residency will take place at the brand-new MSG Sphere at the Venetian. It’s a $2.2 billion venue that is billed as the largest sphere in the world (besides maybe the word itself). The MSG Sphere has a 160,000-square-foot wraparound display plane, billed as he highest-resolution LED screen in the world, which will play a big part in the U2 residency.
“It’s nothing like Las Vegas has ever seen before,” Bono has said of the residency. “I’m interested in Las Vegas for all kinds of reasons, even going back to ‘The Fly.'”
That is doubtless where the wraparound screens come in.
The Fly was a character Bono played during the band’s Zoo TV tour in support of Achtung Baby. In contrast to the austere stage setups of previous U2 tours, Zoo TV was an elaborately staged multimedia event satirizing TV and the viewing public’s overstimulation. The staging played with “sensory overload” in its audience, featuring large video screens that showed visual effects, random clips from pop culture and flashing text phrases. One can imagine those concepts updated for the age of social media using a wraparound ultra high-res LED screen.
One thing the residency will not have — at least in 2023 — is drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. who will take time out to undergo and recuperate from surgery in 2023. These Las Vegas shows will see drummer Bram van den Berg sitting in.
Bono, guitarist The Edge and bassist Adam Clayton said in a statement: “It’s going to take all we’ve got to approach the Sphere without our bandmate in the drum seat, but Larry has joined us in welcoming Bram van den Berg who is a force in his own right.
“The Sphere show has been in the works for a long time. We don’t want to let people down, least of all our audience… the truth is we miss them as much as they appear to miss us… our audience was always the fifth member of the band. Bottom line, U2 hasn’t played live since December 2019 and we need to get back on stage and see the faces of our fans again. And what a unique stage they’re building for us out there in the desert… We’re the right band, ACHTUNG BABY the right album, and the Sphere the right venue to take the live experience of music to the next level… That’s what U2’s been trying to do all along with our satellite stages and video installations, most memorably on the ZOO TV Tour, which ended in Tokyo 30 years ago this Fall.”
The band’s statement called the Sphere “more than just a venue, it’s a gallery and U2’s music is going to be all over the walls.”
MSG promised that the venue will include multiple technical advances, even beyond the wraparound screen.
“Sphere Immersive Sound delivers pitch-perfect audio to every seat in the house. 4D technologies will let the audience feel the wind on their face, the heat on their skin and the rumble of thunder. The ‘U2 UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere’ opening series of shows will tap into this exclusive technology, allowing fans to experience something completely new.”
The band’s residency is expected to begin in September.
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