Crystal Ballroom: What’s Next?

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2024-03-24)

It’s been a week since the debut of U2’s broadcast of their final show at Sphere on U2 X-Radio. For those wanting to listen, if you are a SiriusXM subscriber, the show has been airing live once a day on the station since the initial airing. It is not known how long these live airings will continue, but the show will be available until April 17, 2024 on demand on the service. (That goes for the interview as well.)

What about those of us who don’t have SiriusXM? Those who don’t live in the area that SiriusXM covers?

Universal has been sending out take down notices on YouTube since mid-week for video content shared from Sphere. These are notifications that content was removed from YouTube for copyright issues. Early in the week it was full concert videos from Sphere that were receiving these notices. The notifications are now going out targeting individual songs from Sphere as well. This has been an automated process in the past, and it is a process fans have seen before, just before each Virtual Road concert aired something similar happened. Likewise it happened as U2 has uploaded videos from live performances in 2015 and 2018. If a song / show you have uploaded has enough similarities to what has been uploaded for the official release / stream, take down notices happen, even if the content isn’t an exact copy.

That does possibly point towards something happening on YouTube with the Sphere audio broadcast. In order for those take downs to happen, the original audio that they are matching against has to be uploaded to the YouTube service in some way. In each case prior when these notices happened in large quantities it was because of something debuting on YouTube in the near future. It is a sign that the rest of the world may be able to stream this audio soon via YouTube, perhaps as a limited time streaming event. No details at the moment on exactly what is being planned, but we’ll be keeping our eyes on YouTube to see if any further clues surface.

This will be audio, however, as the final show wasn’t filmed. The shows on February 23, 24, and March 1 at Sphere were all filmed, however, for a movie that we are told will initially be shown as a film at Sphere itself. The band used special cameras used for filming footage for Sphere, and these were seen located throughout the stands and in the GA area. With the quality and size of the footage, editing can be somewhat of a challenge, so we expect it will be some time before we see the debut of a film.

U2’s 40 shows at Sphere are now over. The band turned down an offer to do further shows after these 40, and currently do not have any plans to do additional Achtung Baby shows. What comes next?

U2 have been working in Los Angeles on the new album. That is the full band, including Larry Mullen. He’s back with the band and working on finishing the recordings with a tentative plan for a Fall release. We are told that the band has been working in LA with producers Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee. That’s the same team that worked on “Atomic City” last year. They appear to have wrapped up this work at this time in LA, and it is not known if they will return to the same studio in LA when they continue, or if they are moving the work to other studios.

It hasn’t all been work on a new album for U2. Madonna did a recent string of concerts on her “Celebration” show in Los Angeles and both Larry Mullen and The Edge were seen over multiple nights. Larry went to at least one show, possibly more as his family were present for a second show. The Edge appears to have gone to two shows.

We are also told that the week before the final shows at Sphere that Larry was present with U2 filming some video footage in LA as well. We aren’t aware at this time what the video footage will be used for but it appears to be separate from the material being filmed for the Sphere film.

It sounds like work on the new album is progressing. Previously we had been told the songs had been picked out for the album and the band wanted to re-record the material fresh, similar to what they had done in early 2017 with Songs of Experience. (That album came out later the same year.) Mullen has been seen at the penultimate show at Sphere and at the Madonna concerts wearing an ergonomic boot, typically used to hold the foot in place after an injury or surgery. (We were told surgery on his ankle was done around Christmas.) It is not known what impact Mullen’s continued healing from multiple surgeries has had on the album sessions, but it does appear he is working with the band to wrap things up. The album would need to be finished by July for a release later this year, and at this point many of the band’s plans seem dependent on getting the album finished.

“Glorify” ended the night at 39 out of the 40 shows at Sphere. The song, with vocals by Brittany Howard, was revealed to us to be a U2 song. We were told it would be out soon, with a suggestion we’d see it in Spring. Originally we thought it might be the upcoming Record Store Day release, but that’s since been announced to be a live version of “Atomic City”. Guess we’ll have to keep waiting for now for more news about the plans for “Glorify”. The song was not present at the final show at Sphere. Instead that night the music after U2 left the stage was from Brian Eno’s Another Green World.

Speaking of plans, at the end of every tour, rumours start to circulate about the next. This time is no different.

Crew have shared they’ve been told that the next tour is being planned for 2025. Tentative plans are being made, but it is pending the completion of a new album. Planning is in the earliest stages, and it is likely venues will be booked soon, so expect to start to hear rumours of cities and venues soon. U2 will often book multiple itineraries and narrow down closer to the tour announcement.

The band is expected to start outside of North America in summertime. We’re told Europe is likely, and that stadiums are being discussed. Everyone we have been spoken to has been clear, the album will be done first, and the tour plans will be finalized in conjunction with the new album release. We’ve been told while planning has started for 2025, no dates beyond that are being considered at this point, and the band will focus on the album completion before looking beyond 2025. (Also there’s some talk of appearances in late 2024 to promote the album…probably smaller events with a focus on television appearances.)

All along there’s been a steady stream of information being shared about Sphere. The band rehearsed “If God Will Send His Angels”, Larry Mullen would perform in October, and was present at sound check and so on. Then there was the report in the press that Larry would return for the 2024 shows. These stories got more plentiful and became less believable as we got closer to the final show. The final week we heard Larry would be playing a full show, that he’d join U2 on hand drums for the acoustic session. That Larry had attended Postcards from Earth, the film at Sphere, on multiple nights the final week. That U2 had rehearsed “Mofo”, “Discotheque” and “Out of Control” with Larry Mullen and would do a mini-show for fans after the main show.

We were asked why we weren’t reporting on any of it.

We report rumours which we believe to be accurate. Where we know the person who is sharing them, and how the information might have reached them. And generally we wait until we have collaborating information from a second source independent to the first. The rumours above, some even coming from mainstream media? We looked into them, and each lead us to disbelief. Our own sources that we know and have history with could only confirm that Larry would likely attend a single show and was never expected to perform. So that is what we shared. There may have been some truth in the above, but none of it was coming from sources we had history with, or could confirm had any ties that may have provided such information, and thus we chose to not report.

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