Sphere, Las Vegas, NV

Set List of Show:

Main Set:

  • "Zoo Station"
  • "The Fly"
  • "Even Better Than the Real Thing"
  • "Mysterious Ways"
  • "One"
  • "Until the End of the World"
  • "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"
  • "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World"
  • "All I Want is You"
  • "Desire"
  • "Angel of Harlem"
  • "Love Rescue Me"
  • "So Cruel"
  • "Acrobat"
  • "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)"
  • "Love is Blindness"

  • "Elevation"
  • "Atomic City"
  • "Vertigo"
  • "Where the Streets Have No Name"
  • "With or Without You"
  • "Beautiful Day"

Additional Music

Pre-Recorded Intro Song: "Lemon" (Remix) - U2
Pre-Recorded Exit Song: "Glorify" - U2 featuring Brittany Howard
Pre-Recorded Exit Song: "What A Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong

Snippets of Other Songs Performed by U2:

    "Purple Rain" (Prince) / "Love Me Tender" (Elvis Presley) / "Love Me Do" (The Beatles) / "Into the Mystic" (Van Morrison) / "Dancing in the Moonlight" (Thin Lizzy) / "Viva Las Vegas" (Elvis Presley) / "My Way" (Frank Sinatra) / "Moment of Surrender" (U2) / "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (The Beatles) / "Blackbird" (The Beatles) /

Show Details:

U2 is playing 25 shows in total at the Sphere at The Venetian, opening this new performance venue in September 2023. This is the first of the shows. The full listing of shows can be found in our U2 Show Archive. U2 performed these shows without founding drummer, Larry Mullen. A Dutch drummer, Bram van den Berg replaces Mullen at these shows in Las Vegas. Tonight is his 41st birthday.

The first show that U2 play at The Sphere is the official first public event at the Sphere, and interest is high from the press not only because of U2’s new performance piece, but also to see the inside of this high technology venue. Ahead of the show a message from “the singer” was posted via U2Community: “These dry and dusty desert days and night are enchanting but the enemy to singers and performers…and some in particular – ie me. The great Dean Martin kept his voice match-fit with a scotch and soda, or maybe it was apple juice…This singer is struggling to take a much more scientific approach to performing in the desert than usual…fusing an atom of honey with atoms of H2O in the petri dish that is a cup of tea is where I’m at! And a lot of voice rest…no talking…and that one is not easy for me! I always want to get out to see you…But that’s not possible this time around…But I’ll see you in there…We are so ready for liftoff!” (Regardless of the warning, Bono’s voice sounds pretty good this evening, but he is taking precautions to maintain that, which means band meet and greets at the venue may be limited for these shows.)

Spotted tonight in attendance were U2’s producers of “Atomic City”, Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee. Former manager Paul McGuinness was also present to see the opening night as were members of the band Inhaler.

Entrance to GA, to the VIP GA area, and to seated areas all opened at the same time, at 6pm. Pauli the PSM, Atomic MC took to the stage at approximately 7:30 and played until 8:30, before spinning up a new remix of U2’s “Lemon” into “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer. (Co-written by Giorgio Moroder, who also gets a co-writing credit on “Atomic City”)

The show starts right out of the performance by Pauli the PSM at about 8:30, with U2 kicking off the show with “Zoo Station”. The band went through six songs in a row from Achtung Baby. “The Fly” was up next with words flashing on the screens around Sphere. Then Bono introduces Adam and the Edge, and then asks “Who the hell are you? I think I know you! Let’s Go” moving into “Even Better than the Real Thing”. For “Even Better than the Real Thing” the center of the record player stage rises as images of Elvis fill the screen, and allows Bono to spin around. The audience gets a little breather with “One” (with a snippet of “Purple Rain”). After “One” Bono moves into “Love Me Tender”, a cover of an Elvis Presley song, and then back to Achtung Baby for “Until the End of the World” and “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”. “Tryin’ To Throw Your Arms Around the World” is next.

Bono takes a minute to talk about the stage, and being on a turntable courtesy of Brian Eno. Up next is a four song set from Rattle and Hum. “All I Want is You” is the first U2 song played not from Achtung Baby tonight. Bono shares, “This song is an intent to write a wedding song from a woman’s point of view.” After the song, Bono speaks about Larry, and then introduces Bram, and shares with the audience that is is Bram’s birthday. Bram speaks to say “Let there be no mistake there is only one Larry Mullen Junior. Up next is “Desire”. “Love Me Do” makes a brief appearance at the end of “Desire”, done for Paul McCartney who is at the show tonight, before dedicating “Angel of Harlem” to Billie Holiday, which is followed by a bit of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and a bit of Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Moonlight”. The next song is dedicated to Jimmy Buffett, “Love Rescue Me”. The Rattle and Hum segment is dedicated to Jimmy Iovine who is in the Sphere tonight and had produced the album, along with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Bono reveals they plan on swapping out this album segment each show.

The show returns to Achtung Baby with performances of “So Cruel” and “Acrobat”, and “Ultra Violet (Light My Way)” and finishing out the album with “Love is Blindness” (With a short piece of “Viva Las Vegas”). After a short break the band kicks into “Elevation” which is finished with a snippet of Sinatra’s “My Way” and then into the song that name-checks Sinatra, the new single “Atomic City” played for the first time tonight. And then go straight into “Vertigo” which sees the red come up at the end and “Where the Streets Have No Name” kick in with a brief snippet of “Moment of Surrender”. During “Streets” Edge breaks a string and has to rush off stage to replace his guitar in order to finish the song. “Streets” is followed by “With or Without You”. After finishing, Bono does a large round of thank you shout outs, including one for Paul McGuinness, “we wouldn’t be here without you.” And points out Willie Williams is celebrating 40 years with the band, and that Joe O’Herlihy just celebrated 45 years with the band the day before.

The U2 performance ran approximately two hours and 15 minutes.

Dave Fanning who was in attendance shared, “The new single is much better in a live context and the visuals were so amazing I was wondering if it was an actual live shot of Las Vegas as they sang it. The visuals were always going to take over and they kind of do to a point and people are just in awe, it’s astonishing. But the really weird thing is that after four numbers and the most amazing visuals you’ll see, they stop the visuals and it’s just a band on the stage of the Baggot Inn doing their thing and it was really good.”

Others present at the show included Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Jon Bon Jovi, Maria Shriver and the mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman. Adam Scott, Luke Wilson, Dakota Fanning, Josh Duhamel, Kate Hudson, Ashley Judd, Diplo, Jason Bateman, LeBron James, Maria Sharapova, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Eddie Trunk, Oscar de la Hoya, Jane Seymour, Connie Britton, Skylar Astin, Elizabeth Banks, Brian Grazer, Darren Aronofsky, Matt Damon, Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Flavor Flav, Lars Ulrich, the Zach Brown Band, Chris Kattan, Chelsea Clinton, Katie Perry and Orlando Bloom, Courtney Laine Mazza and Mario Lopez were all at the opening night. The family of the late Jimmy Buffett were also in attendance.

In Variety, Chris Willman writes, “Against many odds — of age, of personal change, of shifts in attitude about authenticity and delusions of grandeur — “U2:UV” does come off managing to feel like actual rock ‘n’ roll. It also feels like Circus Circus marrying some kind of foreign-film aesthetic. With all the heart and soul and silliness and grandiosity appropriate to the host city, this might be the best shotgun wedding Las Vegas ever presided over.” In the Los Angeles Times, Mikael Wood shares, “But more than any defined narrative, what U2 is offering is the sheer obliterating pleasure of sensory overload: a barrage of eye-popping sights and sharply rendered sounds that finds a kind of ecstasy in submission.” Andy Greene in Rolling Stone writes, “Whatever happens going forward, it’s hard to imagine a better proof of concept for Sphere than this U2 show. It’s almost painful to imagine going back to a dumpy sports arena for a show after experiencing something like this.” And Bruce Haring, summing up some reports for Deadline shares, “The Sphere didn’t fall flat on opening night. The Las Vegas venue debuted Friday night with U2 as its resident artist, and drew foaming at the mouth raves from reviewers.”

U2’s involvement in The Sphere was leaked in August 2022. In November 2022, Bono discussed the appearances with RTE’s Brendan O’Connor, saying “I can promise you it won’t be like anything you’ve ever seen in Las Vegas or anywhere ever. It is the most extraordinary…If it comes off, it’s grand madness by 100. It would centre around Achtung Baby, which we feel we need to really honor. But it will also, but we have to have the new songs out don’t we? There’s no place yet, big enough. If we can build one for our audience. But it will be, for us to go, it have to be like no one has ever gone before. That sounds a bit Star Trek. Part Star Trek, part traveling salesman. I’ve got some books…” In January he told the SmartLess podcast, “I’m interested in Las Vegas for all kinds of reasons, even going back to ‘The Fly’!”

The venue itself has seating for 17,500 people, and can accommodate 20,000 people with a general admission area in use. The sphere has nine levels in total, and the inner performance area is a sphere shape, with programmable LED screens covering the sides and top of the performance area. The venue is a dome inside and outside. Not only will people be surrounded by images, there are also features such as scent and wind, a haptic system which will allow users to feel the sound, and targeted sound in the venue. The outside of the sphere is also covered in LED screens and can be used by the performers inside. U2 are the first act to perform in this new venue. The venue is also being used to show a film, Postcard from Earth which opens a few days after U2’s debut at the Sphere.

The September 29 show was among the first five shows announced. The shows were officially teased in a press release on February 10, and later announced via an ad during the Super Bowl. The first five dates were announced on April 24, with a opportunity to apply for presale tickets opening immediately with the announcement. Ticket face value ranged from $140.13 – $501.35 at four different price points for seats. A General Admission floor was priced at $267.88, and at each show there was be a (RED) Zone riser at the back of the GA area which will hold 50 people, priced at $600.00. When the ticket sale for verified fans opened on Thursday April 27, Platinum pricing was in effect for the seats in the venue, with most tickets being priced well beyond these original prices. The general onsale, on Friday April 28 was announced to be cancelled by Ticketmaster due to demand, but later the verified fan restrictions were lifted at that time anyway.

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