Saturday, May 25, 2024

I’m far from U2’s biggest fan, but watching them perform at the Sphere in Las Vegas was unlike any other concert experience

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U2 perform during their residency at the Las Vegas Sphere.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

I recently saw U2 play at the Sphere, the revolutionary new music venue in Las Vegas. While I don’t consider myself a huge U2 fan, the immersive visuals and concert really blew me away. The imagery was stunning, powerful, and thought-provoking. 

On night three of a reporting trip in Las Vegas, wearing a fur coat, plastic lei, and four-inch heels during Super Bowl weekend, I unexpectedly found myself watching U2 at the Sphere.

I hadn’t listened to the legendary Irish band since I was a kid, but my boyfriend and I couldn’t resist checking out the new venue when we heard ticket prices had hit a record low.

Headline after headline proclaimed that the Sphere was an incredible game changer that would revolutionize live music. How could we resist?

And believe me, it was worth it.

The Sphere kicked things off with a star-studded opening night that attracted everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Jeff Bezos. The Las Vegas Sphere promoting U2’s residency on the band’s opening night.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

That September 29 show was the first of what was supposed to be a 25-night residency for U2, but demand was so high that additional dates were added in 2024. It appears the band’s final two shows at the venue, at least for now, will be on Friday and Saturday. Phish and Dead Forever have residencies coming in April and May, and you can still purchase $119 tickets for “The Sphere Experience,” which includes a new film from director Darren Aronofsky.

It’s been a splashy start for the $2.3 billion venue, which was dreamed up — and mostly paid for — by Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan. The Sphere has frequently gone for fun visuals that now light up the Las Vegas skyline from the colossal glowing orb made with over a million LED lights.

After two days of watching it from my hotel room, I was ready to see what was inside.

There was already a massive line as we walked up to the Sphere the night before the Super Bowl. The line for seat ticketholders to get into the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Since we got last-minute tickets — which were $215 each that night from a reseller site — and didn’t have time to change, I was still wearing my outfit from Gronk Beach, Rob Gronkowski’s Super Bowl pre-party — plastic lei necklace included.

I do not recommend wearing a skirt and heels in 50-degree desert weather, but thankfully, the line for floor tickets appeared to be far shorter (and faster) than those who had bought seats.

After about 10 to 15 minutes of waiting — and many concerned “Aren’t you freezing?” questions from strangers — we were in.

I loved the vibe of the Sphere from the moment we walked in. The Sphere felt distinct with its crisp and cool minimalism.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The atmosphere felt futuristic, with its glossy black walls illuminated by simple but bright neon lights.

We first strolled through a hallway lit up with moody blue lights, which switched to gold as we made our way to the bar. I overheard one stranger tell a friend that he felt like he was in a rocket ship.

The mirrored bar was sleek and modern. One of the bars at the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

In an over-the-top city where the decoration can veer toward cheesy, the Sphere feels distinct in its cool and crisp minimalism.

The bar on its own was a fun destination to get a drink, and the $20 cocktails were cheaper than what we’d been paying at clubs like XS over the weekend.

Every drink at the Sphere is served in plastic reusable cups. Our cup of Topo Chico seltzer.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

We ordered a $20 24-ounce Topo Chico to kick off the night and were surprised when our server opened the can and poured it into a large clear cup that read, “Please return me. I’m reusable!”

The server explained that U2 had personally requested a ban on bottles and cans inside the venue. When we asked why, they theorized it was probably so people couldn’t throw anything dangerous at the stage — which has happened in recent months to artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Bebe Rexha.

There were also fridges with canned drinks that you could purchase through the Sphere’s self-checkout system. The self-checkout bar at the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

As someone who goes to many concerts and has waited in many long lines for a drink, I was extremely impressed with the Sphere’s swift and smooth bar system.

There are also waiters frequently selling drinks on the floor, allowing you to get another round without leaving your spot or missing part of the show.

As we walked onto the floor, I gazed up at the sky-high LED screen that stretched before us. At first, it looked like we were seeing the panels of the building.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I took in the massive scale of the Sphere, which measures 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, according to its website.

For a brief moment, my boyfriend and I thought we were looking at the venue’s true interior as we examined the “bolted” panels that went up and down the walls.

When I looked up at the ceiling, I realized we had been fooled by the projection. The initial image that was projected on the Sphere’s ceiling.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

A window into the “night sky,” envisioned by the LED screen, winked back at me from the ceiling, which felt like it belonged to a grand cathedral.

As the music began, Bono’s shadow danced across the walls. Bono’s shadow kicked off the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The LED screen frequently projected images of Bono and his bandmates playing throughout the show, a smart tactic that made them look and feel larger than life.

Light burst through the projected panels with each dramatic strum of the guitar and bang on the drums. The Sphere’s actual stage is simple.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I quickly realized you don’t have to be a diehard U2 fan — although there were obviously many — to be in awe of what the Sphere can achieve. I’ve gone to music festivals around the world and seen hundreds of shows, and none of them can compare to the immersion I felt in the Sphere.

The visuals are so powerful and crisp, yet the overall effect isn’t overwhelming. Honestly, it’s a bit awe-inspiring. And the excitement in the crowd was truly electric as Bono’s falsetto — strong and clear as ever — filled the dome.

U2 kicked things off with a handful of tracks from “Achtung Baby,” their hit 1991 album. A rainbow of letters and numbers fill the screen during U2’s Sphere show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I silently thanked my dad for my childhood rock-music education as I sang along to most of the songs, even getting a little emotional when Bono started singing “One.”

As the band started ripping through their classics, the visuals became more elaborate. Some of the visuals paid tribute to Sin City.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

There were multiple tributes to both Las Vegas and Elvis Presley, its most famous resident, as Bono sang snippets of “Love Me Tender” and “Viva Las Vegas.”

The vivid details of the images, which often moved and shook with the music, were electric. One of the coolest images from the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I was obviously expecting some cool visuals, but the scope of what we saw at the beginning of U2’s show was pretty incredible. The Sphere taps into the visual power that music videos had to further illustrate a song’s message at the height of their relevance. It was inspiring to watch that impact return in full force.

And it was also just extremely heartwarming to observe the crowd around us. So many dads were clearly having the time of their lives, downing beer and wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders on their big night out.

There were also some celebrities among the floor crowd. Bono gave a shout-out to Sheryl Crow and Alicia Keys, who attended their set the night before her surprise appearance during Usher’s Super Bowl halftime show.

One of the most powerful recurring images was a fire that burned from a tentpole as if it were a waving flag. The burning flag returned at the end of the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The flames burned fast and hard into a night sky as the Edge shredded through his solo in “Until the End of the World.”

The show slowed down, in both pace and visuals, during the second half of the band’s set. U2 during their show at the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

As Bono launched into some ballads, the energy seemed to drop slightly. There were far fewer visuals, which felt like a bit of a waste of the space to me. If you’re going to have the world’s largest video screen, you should use it to the fullest.

But I also recognize that this part of the show probably meant more to the real fans. I wasn’t as familiar with the songs, and the images focused more on projecting the band rather than dazzling us with powerful pictures or wild graphics.

The drunk woman behind me, at least, was still very excited. Her piercing cheers repeatedly broke through some of the tunes. I guess it truly doesn’t matter what genre you prefer — there will be a “Woo! girl” in every music venue.

As the show neared its finale, the burning fire returned. This visual looked straight out of Burning Man.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The fire flag reappeared on the screen with flames that were now a deep shade of pink. As dusk turned to day amid the iconic opening notes of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the flames turned white as the sun shone behind them.

“This looks like Burning Man!” someone yelled right by us.

It was exactly what my boyfriend and I — who witnessed many sunrises on the playa at Burning Man last year — had said to each other just moments before. We immediately turned around to swap stories with him.

An orb peacefully floating in the sea filled the screen as my favorite U2 song began. Many of the visuals were truly beautiful.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I listened to “With or Without You” repeatedly when I was a kid with a cherry-red iPod nano. It is just so damn sad and beautiful.

The orb on the screen got bigger and bigger as the song went on, its core morphing into a kaleidoscope of sepia-tinged birds and butterflies. It seemed, to me at least, that U2 was very intentionally ending their show on a note of hope.

The fire flag was now just one of smoke. The orb in the water, a classic symbol of rebirth, appeared to be the earth growing with the beauty of nature once more.

Soon, the entire screen was filled with images of wildlife. This filled the orb as U2 sang “Beautiful Day,” one of their most famous songs.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Eagles, fish, snakes, and butterflies all fluttered above us as U2 launched into “Beautiful Day,” the grand finale.

The Sphere’s exterior screen burst with color as we left as the animals changed from sepia to rainbow. Our last view of the Sphere as we left the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

It was a fitting end to a beautiful experience, even for two people who hadn’t listened to U2 in at least a decade. My boyfriend and I were really blown away by the overall atmosphere of the Sphere and what it can offer to concert lovers.

I can’t wait to see what the Sphere does next.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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Read more

Share

U2 perform during their residency at the Las Vegas Sphere.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

I recently saw U2 play at the Sphere, the revolutionary new music venue in Las Vegas. While I don’t consider myself a huge U2 fan, the immersive visuals and concert really blew me away. The imagery was stunning, powerful, and thought-provoking. 

On night three of a reporting trip in Las Vegas, wearing a fur coat, plastic lei, and four-inch heels during Super Bowl weekend, I unexpectedly found myself watching U2 at the Sphere.

I hadn’t listened to the legendary Irish band since I was a kid, but my boyfriend and I couldn’t resist checking out the new venue when we heard ticket prices had hit a record low.

Headline after headline proclaimed that the Sphere was an incredible game changer that would revolutionize live music. How could we resist?

And believe me, it was worth it.

The Sphere kicked things off with a star-studded opening night that attracted everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Jeff Bezos. The Las Vegas Sphere promoting U2’s residency on the band’s opening night.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

That September 29 show was the first of what was supposed to be a 25-night residency for U2, but demand was so high that additional dates were added in 2024. It appears the band’s final two shows at the venue, at least for now, will be on Friday and Saturday. Phish and Dead Forever have residencies coming in April and May, and you can still purchase $119 tickets for “The Sphere Experience,” which includes a new film from director Darren Aronofsky.

It’s been a splashy start for the $2.3 billion venue, which was dreamed up — and mostly paid for — by Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan. The Sphere has frequently gone for fun visuals that now light up the Las Vegas skyline from the colossal glowing orb made with over a million LED lights.

After two days of watching it from my hotel room, I was ready to see what was inside.

There was already a massive line as we walked up to the Sphere the night before the Super Bowl. The line for seat ticketholders to get into the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Since we got last-minute tickets — which were $215 each that night from a reseller site — and didn’t have time to change, I was still wearing my outfit from Gronk Beach, Rob Gronkowski’s Super Bowl pre-party — plastic lei necklace included.

I do not recommend wearing a skirt and heels in 50-degree desert weather, but thankfully, the line for floor tickets appeared to be far shorter (and faster) than those who had bought seats.

After about 10 to 15 minutes of waiting — and many concerned “Aren’t you freezing?” questions from strangers — we were in.

I loved the vibe of the Sphere from the moment we walked in. The Sphere felt distinct with its crisp and cool minimalism.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The atmosphere felt futuristic, with its glossy black walls illuminated by simple but bright neon lights.

We first strolled through a hallway lit up with moody blue lights, which switched to gold as we made our way to the bar. I overheard one stranger tell a friend that he felt like he was in a rocket ship.

The mirrored bar was sleek and modern. One of the bars at the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

In an over-the-top city where the decoration can veer toward cheesy, the Sphere feels distinct in its cool and crisp minimalism.

The bar on its own was a fun destination to get a drink, and the $20 cocktails were cheaper than what we’d been paying at clubs like XS over the weekend.

Every drink at the Sphere is served in plastic reusable cups. Our cup of Topo Chico seltzer.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

We ordered a $20 24-ounce Topo Chico to kick off the night and were surprised when our server opened the can and poured it into a large clear cup that read, “Please return me. I’m reusable!”

The server explained that U2 had personally requested a ban on bottles and cans inside the venue. When we asked why, they theorized it was probably so people couldn’t throw anything dangerous at the stage — which has happened in recent months to artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Bebe Rexha.

There were also fridges with canned drinks that you could purchase through the Sphere’s self-checkout system. The self-checkout bar at the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

As someone who goes to many concerts and has waited in many long lines for a drink, I was extremely impressed with the Sphere’s swift and smooth bar system.

There are also waiters frequently selling drinks on the floor, allowing you to get another round without leaving your spot or missing part of the show.

As we walked onto the floor, I gazed up at the sky-high LED screen that stretched before us. At first, it looked like we were seeing the panels of the building.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I took in the massive scale of the Sphere, which measures 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide, according to its website.

For a brief moment, my boyfriend and I thought we were looking at the venue’s true interior as we examined the “bolted” panels that went up and down the walls.

When I looked up at the ceiling, I realized we had been fooled by the projection. The initial image that was projected on the Sphere’s ceiling.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

A window into the “night sky,” envisioned by the LED screen, winked back at me from the ceiling, which felt like it belonged to a grand cathedral.

As the music began, Bono’s shadow danced across the walls. Bono’s shadow kicked off the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The LED screen frequently projected images of Bono and his bandmates playing throughout the show, a smart tactic that made them look and feel larger than life.

Light burst through the projected panels with each dramatic strum of the guitar and bang on the drums. The Sphere’s actual stage is simple.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I quickly realized you don’t have to be a diehard U2 fan — although there were obviously many — to be in awe of what the Sphere can achieve. I’ve gone to music festivals around the world and seen hundreds of shows, and none of them can compare to the immersion I felt in the Sphere.

The visuals are so powerful and crisp, yet the overall effect isn’t overwhelming. Honestly, it’s a bit awe-inspiring. And the excitement in the crowd was truly electric as Bono’s falsetto — strong and clear as ever — filled the dome.

U2 kicked things off with a handful of tracks from “Achtung Baby,” their hit 1991 album. A rainbow of letters and numbers fill the screen during U2’s Sphere show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I silently thanked my dad for my childhood rock-music education as I sang along to most of the songs, even getting a little emotional when Bono started singing “One.”

As the band started ripping through their classics, the visuals became more elaborate. Some of the visuals paid tribute to Sin City.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

There were multiple tributes to both Las Vegas and Elvis Presley, its most famous resident, as Bono sang snippets of “Love Me Tender” and “Viva Las Vegas.”

The vivid details of the images, which often moved and shook with the music, were electric. One of the coolest images from the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I was obviously expecting some cool visuals, but the scope of what we saw at the beginning of U2’s show was pretty incredible. The Sphere taps into the visual power that music videos had to further illustrate a song’s message at the height of their relevance. It was inspiring to watch that impact return in full force.

And it was also just extremely heartwarming to observe the crowd around us. So many dads were clearly having the time of their lives, downing beer and wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders on their big night out.

There were also some celebrities among the floor crowd. Bono gave a shout-out to Sheryl Crow and Alicia Keys, who attended their set the night before her surprise appearance during Usher’s Super Bowl halftime show.

One of the most powerful recurring images was a fire that burned from a tentpole as if it were a waving flag. The burning flag returned at the end of the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The flames burned fast and hard into a night sky as the Edge shredded through his solo in “Until the End of the World.”

The show slowed down, in both pace and visuals, during the second half of the band’s set. U2 during their show at the Sphere.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

As Bono launched into some ballads, the energy seemed to drop slightly. There were far fewer visuals, which felt like a bit of a waste of the space to me. If you’re going to have the world’s largest video screen, you should use it to the fullest.

But I also recognize that this part of the show probably meant more to the real fans. I wasn’t as familiar with the songs, and the images focused more on projecting the band rather than dazzling us with powerful pictures or wild graphics.

The drunk woman behind me, at least, was still very excited. Her piercing cheers repeatedly broke through some of the tunes. I guess it truly doesn’t matter what genre you prefer — there will be a “Woo! girl” in every music venue.

As the show neared its finale, the burning fire returned. This visual looked straight out of Burning Man.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The fire flag reappeared on the screen with flames that were now a deep shade of pink. As dusk turned to day amid the iconic opening notes of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the flames turned white as the sun shone behind them.

“This looks like Burning Man!” someone yelled right by us.

It was exactly what my boyfriend and I — who witnessed many sunrises on the playa at Burning Man last year — had said to each other just moments before. We immediately turned around to swap stories with him.

An orb peacefully floating in the sea filled the screen as my favorite U2 song began. Many of the visuals were truly beautiful.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I listened to “With or Without You” repeatedly when I was a kid with a cherry-red iPod nano. It is just so damn sad and beautiful.

The orb on the screen got bigger and bigger as the song went on, its core morphing into a kaleidoscope of sepia-tinged birds and butterflies. It seemed, to me at least, that U2 was very intentionally ending their show on a note of hope.

The fire flag was now just one of smoke. The orb in the water, a classic symbol of rebirth, appeared to be the earth growing with the beauty of nature once more.

Soon, the entire screen was filled with images of wildlife. This filled the orb as U2 sang “Beautiful Day,” one of their most famous songs.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Eagles, fish, snakes, and butterflies all fluttered above us as U2 launched into “Beautiful Day,” the grand finale.

The Sphere’s exterior screen burst with color as we left as the animals changed from sepia to rainbow. Our last view of the Sphere as we left the show.

Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

It was a fitting end to a beautiful experience, even for two people who hadn’t listened to U2 in at least a decade. My boyfriend and I were really blown away by the overall atmosphere of the Sphere and what it can offer to concert lovers.

I can’t wait to see what the Sphere does next.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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