U2 Add Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) at Sphere
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-12-15)
U2 are playing their 24th show of 40 in total at the Las Vegas Sphere. The full listing of shows can be found in our U2 show archive. U2 are performing these shows without founding member, Larry Mullen Junior, who is missing due to surgery to repair damage suffered from years of drumming. A Dutch drummer, Bram van den Berg replaces Mullen at these shows in Las Vegas. With just two shows left, U2 have a little fun tonight, introducing two new songs in the turntable portion of the show.
Tonight sees U2 play “City of Blinding Lights” for the first time as a band since the final show of the Experience + Innocence tour in Berlin in 2018. (The song was played throughout Bono’s solo book tour in 2022 and earlier this year.) The other debut tonight stretches back further. The band play Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” tonight for the first time since the December 20, 1987 show at Tempe, Arizona. Although Bono has played it while busking and has included it as a snippet over the years, it is the first time it has been played in full at a U2 show in 36 years, only the second time ever. U2 recorded the song (with backing vocals by Darlene Love) for the 1987 album A Very Special Christmas for Special Olympics. You can see the performance of this latter song on our Twitter feed and Facebook feed courtesy of Roars. The rest of the turn table set was “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, played for just the third time in these shows, and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, played tonight for seventh time in these Sphere shows. Although rehearsed earlier in the day a number of times, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” was not on the set list for this show.
Introducing “City of Blinding Lights” Bono borrows some of the ideas he used during his “Stories of Surrender” tour, sharing, “Let’s take a break from all that European melodrama, for some American melodrama. You know you can take a DNA test, and it’ll tell you you are 50% Polish, 40% Greek, with traces of Egyptian. But unless you are native, a DNA test will never tell you, you are an American. Because the American doesn’t yet exist. The American is still in the process of being created, it’s kind of inspiring. We all come to this country carrying our myths, and histories, our talents and traumas, our wisdom and traditions. We all come to America in our dreams and some of us want to wake up here. Because America is still arriving. Hasn’t happened yet! America is still waiting to be born. What an inspiring thought. Could be the greatest song the world has never heard. The greatest song the world is still to hear. A song that is being written in this room this evening…”
Ahead of “Pride (In the Name of Love)” Bono shares, “Blessed be the peacemakers” and after the song shares, “Strange to sing a song about non-violence in these dangerous times when people are fighting for their life. I wonder what Dr. King would have to say Vladimir Putin? I wonder. I wonder what Dr. King would say about what’s happening in what used to be called the Holy Land? I wonder.” Bono also says the band isn’t great at busking, “Busking was never our thing. Except for the Christmas Eve thing with Damian Rice, that’s special. And Glen Hansard. I just said Glen Hansard. Isn’t that a great name?” The reference is to the Christmas Eve Busking events in Dublin that both Bono and The Edge have participated in over the years. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is introduced with Bono speaking about Allen Ginsberg and how Ginsberg and other writers “woke us up not just to the poetry of the American landscape, but the poetry of the psalms, the poetry of your spiritual life, the sacred texts. Jewish mystics who heard the voice of God in a whisper in the desert.”
With the changes to the turntable set, the introduction of the band are moved to a new extended ending for “Vertigo”. While the band plays Bono does introductions at the end of the song, “on the bass, Adam Clayton….oh oh oh oh. On drums. The flying-while-sitting-Dutchman, Bram van den Berg. The quietest storm that ever blew into town, on guitars and everything else…The Edge!” He skips introducing himself.
At the end of “With or Without You” Bono stops to say “Wham bam thank you Bram” bringing laughs from the audience. He then turns his thanks to the audience tonight, who he acknowledges have traveled a long distance tonight. “Thank you for getting us to our destination. It’s been a wild ride here at the Sphere. You’ve been a wild ride for a long time. I’m delirious at this point. I don’t know what I’m doing, what I’m saying, what I’m thinking. Greatest high you could ever have in this city is listening to you, playing for you!”
Throughout the night Bono added pieces of other songs into the ones he was performing. This included “Drive My Car” ahead of “The Fly” as he introduced Atomic DJ, Pauli the PSM. During “Mysterious Ways”, Bono included a bit of “I Feel Love”. “One” ends tonight with “Love Me Tender”. During “Until the End of the World” the band includes “Paint it Black”, and the main set ends with “Viva Las Vegas” finishing over “Love is Blindness”. “My Way” is included during “Elevation” at the end of the song. “Moment of Surrender” is heard opening “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Blackbird” is heard at the end of “Beautiful Day”. As the sounds of Brittany Howard’s vocals come over the PA at the end of the night, Bono also sings a few lines from the song being played, “Glorify”.
Tenacious D is in attendance at the show (Jack Black, Kyle Gass) as are actress Shannen Doherty, Phoebe Robinson, Bert Kreischer, and musician, Cait “Rocky” O’Riordan, and magician, David Copperfield.
Initially five shows in Las Vegas were announced, quickly followed by seven more, and then five more taking us to the end of November. On May 12, the final shows for December were added, with all eight shows being available via a U2.com presale offer, where you could apply for the shows you were interested in. The offer ended on May 15. Face value on tickets range from $140.13 – $501.35 at four different price points for seats for face values. A General Admission floor will be priced at $267.88, and at each show there was be a (RED) Zone riser at the back of the GA area which held 50 people, priced at $600.00. Although these prices listed were face values, tickets in seated areas were subject to Platinum pricing in the general sale.
Many thanks to Jason, Rory, Elysia and Harry for their assistance with this report.For the full show details, including set list, please check the following show listing: