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U2 and The Sphere – A Match Made for Las Vegas

On November 19, 1991, U2 released “Achtung Baby,” their first full length album of the 1990s. At the time, I was a freshman at the University of Florida, and I remember lining up at a local record store to buy the CD when it went on sale at midnight. In fact, I still have that CD, along with all of the other U2 CDs that I treasure. My love affair with U2 goes back to my preteen years when the unknown band from Ireland was just becoming popular in America. One of my fondest memories is seeing them in concert at the old Tampa Stadium on December 5, 1987, a particularly cold night. The Joshua Tree Tour was colorful and innovative, rocketing U2 to widespread fame in America. Since then, I’ve seen U2 in concert multiple times, including the 360° Tour in Denver and the 30th anniversary of the Joshua Tree tour in Tampa on June 14, 2017. My favorite band always puts on an amazing show, so when I heard they were going to be in residence at the Sphere in Las Vegas, I had to find a way to be there.

After securing flights, a hotel and concert tickets six months in advance, my husband and I headed to Las Vegas for the October 7 show. Before we even boarded the plane in Tampa, we met several fellow U2 fans who were flying out to Las Vegas for the concert. At that point, we had no idea that throughout the weekend we would end up meeting so many U2 fans from around the world. Fans flew in from Europe, Canada, South America and cities around the United States, demonstrating the scope, camaraderie and passion of U2’s fan base.

Las Vegas is already a spectacle unto itself, but the Sphere takes things to another level. The unique dome shape stands out among the tall and sprawling hotels and casinos that dot Las Vegas Boulevard. Located adjacent to the Venetian Resort, the Sphere cost $2.3 billion, is 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, making it the largest spherical structure in the world. It has more than 160,000 speakers and a wraparound 16K LED screen. With such impressive stats, I wondered if U2 would get lost in all the technology.


After months of anticipation, it was finally time to enter the Sphere and see what all the hype was about. We took the long, indoor walkway that connects the Venetian to the Sphere, chatting with fellow U2 fans as the line moved along quickly. Unlike many large concerts I’ve been to, security and entry was a breeze. Immediately after walking into the lobby, the mood was already being set as U2 songs played in the background. Unique art displays hung from the ceiling, and the dim lighting with blue undertones gave an upscale vibe to the venue. You definitely don’t get this sort of welcome at stadium concerts.

Our seats were in section 306, row 15, the equivalent of the 50-yard line, and after walking through a completely dark hallway, we emerged into the vast, cavernous space. That’s when the sheer enormity of the Sphere hits you and you can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. While a DJ played music in lieu of an opening band, excitement was building in the crowd. Suddenly, the screen began to change colors and U2 took the stage, opening with “Zoo Station.” From that point on, the crowd was dazzled by U2’s set list that included 22 songs from several albums such as “Achtung Baby,” “The Joshua Tree” and “Rattle and Hum.” Each song sounded crystal clear and was accompanied by stunning visuals that came to life in enormous fashion. While the actual stage was tiny in comparison and the band looked miniscule from afar, it didn’t matter. “Where the Streets Have No Name” was sung amid a backdrop of a time-lapse video of the Nevada desert in all its stunning, sunny glory. Other visuals included projections of the band members, an enormous eyeball floating on water, the Las Vegas Strip and a mosaic of 26 endangered species specific to Nevada.

After the two-hour concert, fans emerged from the Sphere, awe struck by what they just saw. It was such a unique experience thanks to cutting edge technology and the one-of-a-kind venue. It takes a big personality and presence to stand up to the stunning visuals and frontman Bono and U2 pulled it off with perfection.


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