The Crystal Ball: A Look Ahead

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-12-01)

Tonight the Las Vegas Sphere shows start again, with eight shows in December before breaking for the Christmas holidays after December 16. Over the last couple of nights U2 have been in Vegas rehearsing for these shows, and longtime collaborators Gavin Friday, Morleigh Evans, and Willie Williams are all working with the band to work on elements of the show.

The band had surprised fans just before the show took a break for the F1 races. On November 3, they did a setlist that included songs from War for the first time for these shows. They’ve been doing further work on that segment, and we expect we’ll hear more of those songs as this residency gets underway.

You can see what the band are playing, and follow along with our updates on Twitter / X, and also in our show archive.

On top of the eight remaining shows in December, there are also 11 shows announced for 2024, in late January and running until February 18. These shows have not yet been announced as the final shows for Sphere, and there are still rumours bubbling that an additional couple of weeks may be added before U2 take another break from Sphere. (Interesting perhaps, Sphere is running a one-day promotion today for University and College students at Las Vegas schools, offering a $25 GA ticket for the January / February shows…)

Yesterday it was announced that another band will be taking over Sphere in April, with four shows going on sale. Phish will play the venue April 18 – 21. The American jam rock band was formed in 1983, and has a loyal following of fans who will likely snap up tickets to these shows quickly. Phish are promising a unique set list each night they play, with unique visuals, and are selling a four-pack ticket, with admission to all four shows. Ticket prices for Phish are $108 – $181 for Phish.

We’ve been sharing for a while now, that the plan for U2 after Vegas is to get a new album put together and out before the band will embark on a world tour. Intially plans shared with us suggested the album would be out in late 2023, but then came the announcement about Larry’s injuries, and his need to pull out of the Vegas committments.

It looks like the plan remains the same, get the album out, and go out on tour. But the time frames have shifted.

We’re told an album is likely for late 2024 with a world tour in 2025. It is still early yet, so things can change as we have seen time and time again, but those are the current plans.

Adam Clayton told Ciara Lawrence on the Pink Sparkle Podcast, released this morning, that the plans were, “to go away and do another album…we want to put another record together, and then we would tour again. I think if we go out again, it won’t be next year, but probably the year after. It’ll probably be a worldwide tour and we’ll go everywhere that we can.”

You can find the Pink Sparkle Podcast on Spotify, Google, Apple, and Amazon Music.

That new U2 album? We’re told that although the band shares that it still needs to be recorded, it may be further along than thought. The Edge told CBS Mornings, “We’re at the song development phase. Nothing has been recorded other than ‘Atomic City’ but we’ve got some great tunes.”

We’re told that the songs for the album have been chosen from material that the band have been working on for some time. The emphasis will be on putting together a heavier rock album. And although the songs have been identified, the band want to go into the studio and polish them up, and re-record things at one time as they did in 2017 with Songs of Experience.

Who are they working with on the album? Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee have been working with the band of late, and both produced the single, “Atomic City”, and both have been in attendance on many of the shows at the first run at Sphere.

When will it be out? Bono shares, “We didn’t want to put either album out before we could play live, so we were waiting for our drummer to heal.” Look to see news of U2 in studio after shows wrap up at Sphere in March. That’s around a similar timeframe to when U2 went into studio in 2017 to re-record Songs of Experience which came out later that year. We’re hopeful for a new record next fall.

Speaking of Songs of Experience, it is six years today since that album came out. Below is the first taster we had from that album, in the form of a video for “The Blackout”.

Have we had our first taster of what comes next in the form of “Atomic City”, or will that remain a one-off single? Only time will tell.

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