Gavin Friday on the Sphere, Atomic City, and the Shows Opening this Week
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-09-23)
Today during the “Dan Hegarty Show”, U2 X-Radio aired a 25-minute conversation between station host, Jenny Huston and Gavin Friday. Friday, the Creative Director for the upcoming shows at the Sphere was there to discuss the upcoming U2 shows, and to give some reports from inside the whole production. We’ve tried to keep this report as spoiler free as possible, and other than the mention of the new song the band has prepared for release on Friday, there is little discussion about the songs themselves. But there are some descriptions on how things are being played.
We’ve broken our report into topics. We’ve included quotes from Gavin throughout, and hope this whets your appetite to listen to the full interview. The interview is available on U2 X-Radio, available to subscribers of SiriusXM Radio.
Gavin Friday confirms that Larry has had surgeries already for his injuries, but still has additional surgeries ahead. He shares the Larry was in Las Vegas last week and has been working with the band in studio. “It was a lot of work for him. He’s had surgeries and he has some more coming. But he went in and recorded for a weekend, and went out and did a video, went ‘full-monty-Larry-Mullen’ played like that mofo plays. That energy! But could not do that for 2.5 hours, just could not. Just physically couldn’t. But he was there in spirit, and will be there in spirit. And I think it was sort of, how else could Larry not give his blessing?”
Gavin shares that the band sounds “more rock and roll than I’ve heard them for years.” He confirms that the stage is inspired by Brian Eno’s “colour-box turntable” and that the show logo now in use was designed by Eno and The Edge. The sound team have been working on the show for over two years. And Gavin shares that it is the music that really blows him away about this show, “That’s what U2 are really about. The music. and their connection with the fans.”
Talking about the show itself Gavin shares, “It’s quite overwhelming. We’ve paced the set musically and visually so you actually need your fucking breather because its so overwhelming in parts,” but also steps back to remember “We know that the most important thing at a u2 show is a U2 audience, that connection, and that’s not going away. We know that.”
When asked about the comparisons to Zoo TV he shares, “They reinvented the wheel with Zoo TV with this they’re reinventing the space ship. But we’ve never driven a space ship before. We’ve driven rockets, we’ve driven nuclear missiles, rock and roll nuclear missiles…”
Gavin shares, “there are nods [to Zoo TV], but they are sci-fi nods. We’re not trying to repeat Zoo TV. You can’t. It would be stupid.” He then talks about the concepts from Zoo TV and how they’ve sort of told the future, “The thing that ruins / rules our lives at the moment is social media and news and fake news. That was the thing The Fly was talking about 30 odd years ago. It’s no secret. No there are no more secrets. All that’s left is fake news,” and then quickly adds, “We’re not going there, we’re going to another place.”
Gavin calls the Sphere “Huge” and “Surreal”. Asked about the leaks of images he shares, “The leaks add nothing. You just see the overcoat. You haven’t seen the clothes.” The PA system has never been used before, and Gavin shares “It’ll have the quality as if you were in the recording studio with them” and that it sounds amazing.
Gavin confirms that “Atomic City” will be released on Friday. (You can see our discography entry for more information about the single.) He urges “Have patience all you people with phones and leaks.” He calls the song a “polar opposite” of the Sphere and says it’s the band “back-to-basics but having fun.”
Gavin shares that hearing the song makes him “feel like I’m 18 and I’m going back to the record store to buy that 7-inch single.” He talks about how there is a hint of nostalgia in the song, but it’s kind of like how everyone today looks like The Virgin Prunes, “It’s future nostalgia, it’s today”. He praises Adam Clayton’s “right-in-your-face” bass solo and mentions that Lillywhite has mixed in the big drums. The single is produced by Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee.
Zoo Station is described as a love-letter to fans, and Gavin shares that they wanted to get away from the “Babylon-esque vibe of Vegas” and wanted to focus on harmony, “wanted to get away from chi-ching chi-ching and glitz and bling. Wanted to get away from all that.” He calls it an oasis in the city and jokes “The best place in Las Vegas is your bed.”
The exhibit will include the UV bar which will have an ambient Eno-esque atmosphere. There will be two interactive trabants. The exhibition of Anton Corbijn’s work will be digital and is being curated by Corbijn himself and will be displayed on 4 big screens with 40 images changing throughout the exhibit to show his forty years with the band.
Bram and GF:UV
Gavin quickly comments on Bram saying he’s “Quite a beautiful man” and sharing stories about the two going to shop together at Amoeba Records, saying Bram is a “deep lover of music.” Gavin promises more soon on his upcoming U2 X-Radio program, “GF: UV” (Gavin Friday: Ultra Violet) where Bram will be a guest on his first show. The show will include reports from Vegas and will debut soon.
Gavin ended by talking about the opening act, “Pauli the PSM MC Atomic DJ, the atomic master of ceremonies” which we mentioned in our previous story, and shares that they haven’t forgotten U2 fans go from 15 to 75 and the music will reflect that variety.
We’ll continue to report on Gavin’s appearances on U2 X-Radio in the weeks ahead. If you catch him on a report, please let us know and we’ll make sure we hop on.
All of our Sphere updates can be found in our Show Archive as they are made.