U2 helped prove that Sphere is more than just the world’s coolest billboard over the weekend.
The Las Vegas amphitheater, which is located just north of the strip, opened its doors to the public on Friday night. The $2.3 billion venue’s first headliner helped illustrate the exhilarating ways that the Sphere will change the way musicians and fans think about concerts from now on.
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“Whatever happens going forward, it’s hard to imagine a better proof of concept for Sphere than this U2 show,” Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene wrote about the performance. “It’s almost painful to imagine going back to a dumpy sports arena for a show after experiencing something like this.”
A look inside the immersive MSG Sphere arena in Las Vegas, which opened with a U2 concert.
The 18K resolution wraparound LED screen measuring 160,000 sq ft (15,000 m²) with 166,000 speakers. The largest and highest-resolution LED screen in the worldpic.twitter.com/sHid0DEuZu
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) September 30, 2023
The Sphere at Venetian Resorts is Sin City’s latest can’t-miss attraction. The exterior of the auditorium, which stands 366 feet tall, is covered in 580,000 square feet of LED panels that can display anything from a giant blinking eye to the surface of Mars. It’s little wonder the structure has been stopping traffic since it was first turned on earlier this year.
The Sphere’s 1.2 million LED panels aren’t just limited to its exterior. Inside the auditorium, which was designed by Populace, is a giant, wraparound 14K display that covers the interior walls. Combine all that screen space with a ridiculous sound system that delivers spatial audio and you have a venue that can deliver a truly immersive audio-visual experience.
U2 attempted to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the high-tech set-up to thrill a crowd of 18,600 on opening night. Over the course of two hours, Bono and company tore through a setlist that included the entirety of the 1991’s Achtung Baby, several career-spanning favorites, and their new single “Atomic City.” The kaleidoscope of surreal animations that accompanied the band’s music just about stole the show, though. Looking at the video and pictures that flooded social media during the performance—showing everything from the Las Vegas skyline to a burning flag to a sky filled with animals—it’s easy to see why.
“This whole place feels like a distortion pedal for the mind,” Bono said.
— diplo (@diplo) September 30, 2023
Sad you missed out? Fortunately, U2’s 25-show “UV Achtung Baby” residency runs through Dec. 16, though there are already rumors it will be extended. Tickets are still available, too, starting at $400. Don’t be surprised if they start to disappear now that people know what a concert at the Sphere looks like. If you’re not a fan of the Irish rockers, that’s okay, too. Postcard from Earth, a film by Darren Aronofsky, will open there later this week, and more concerts are planned in the months to come.