U2 performs opening night in Las Vegas Spheremeant a lot of different things.
It looked like a normal U2 outdoor concert: two helicopters flew through the night sky, shining lights on the Las Vegas desert and the band's lead singer, Bono, who was kneeling on the ground and singing their 2004 hit "Vertigo."
U2 performing in Las Vegas Sphere
Since U2 is known for pushing technical and artistic limits at its live shows, it made sense for the band to open the much-anticipated Sphere in Las Vegas on Friday with its most ambitious and moving live show ever: an electrifying live performance and visual odyssey that unfolds on Sphere's 160,000-square-foot wraparound interior LED display.
Sphere is MSG mogul James Dolan and Sphere Entertainment Co.'s (formed in April when Sphere and MSG Networks merged) big bet on the future of entertainment. It cost about $2.3 billion to build. The venue is 336 feet tall and 516 feet wide, making it the largest spherical building in the world. It also has the largest LED displays inside and outside.
Inside, the enveloping LED display has a high resolution of 16K, which means it can show images that look so real that you might feel like you're no longer in a Las Vegas venue but have been transported into the visual material.
U2 made great use of this during their two-hour show. A new realistic sound system from Berlin-based Holoplot is set up with about 1,600 loudspeakers to bring the experience to all of the seats in the complex design of Sphere.
From the opening performance of "Zoo Station," when the LED display behind the band looks like a cement wall that slowly breaks open as the show starts, U2 and the band's longtime creative director Willie Williams used the orb's LED display as a canvas for a variety of visual art.
Segments were made by John Gerrard, Marco Brambilla, Es Devlin, Williams with Treatment Studio, and Industrial Light & Magic. Some of these experiences put people in the desert or on the water, let them get lost in paintings, or flash text messages on the screen.
The stage looks like a turntable, which was inspired by the work of Brian Eno, who has worked with U2 for many years as a composer and collaborator. Joe O'Herlihy, who has been the band's sound engineer for decades, mixed the music during the show.
With so many amazing videos, it's hard to pick the best, but "Even Better Than the Real Thing" has a mega-sized video of Elvis Presley mixed with scenes from old Las Vegas and close-ups of U2 floating in bubbles. It's a strong contender.
Bono and the boys have always made it clear how much they love the classics, and their show has many subtle and not-so-subtle references to their Vegas predecessors.
In the crowd were Oprah, LeBron James, Matt Damon, Andre Agassi, Ava DuVernay, Josh Duhamel, Jason Bateman, Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Oscar de la Hoya, Henrik Lundqvist, Flava Flav, Diplo, Dakota Fanning, Orlando Bloom, and Mario Lopez.
After The Beatles finished playing "Love Me Do," Bono saw Paul McCartney in the crowd and said, "Macca is in the house tonight." He gave James Dolan, the owner of Sphere, credit for putting together a place with 160,000 high-quality speakers and 260 million video images that are changing the way live concerts sound.
Dolan, who runs Madison Square Garden and owns the New York Knicks and Rangers, came up with the idea for the Sphere. He drew the first picture of the place on a piece of notebook paper.
As U2 finished their show, a bright light came from the roof, and images of birds, bugs, and reptiles flying over a lake started to appear on the huge screen. "Beautiful Day," which won three Grammys in 2001, was the last song at the band's first Sphere show.
U2 is an Irish rock band formed in Dublin in 1976. The group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion). U2 is known for its distinctive sound, characterized by Bono's emotive vocals, The Edge's atmospheric guitar work, and their socially and politically charged lyrics.
U2 rose to international prominence in the 1980s with albums like "War," "The Unforgettable Fire," and "The Joshua Tree." The latter, released in 1987, is often considered their breakthrough album and includes iconic songs like "With or Without You" and "Where the Streets Have No Name." The band continued to release successful albums throughout the years, including "Achtung Baby," "Zooropa," "Pop," "All That You Can't Leave Behind," and "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."
This is pretty much the opposite of every standard rule of rock 'n' roll. It's also what most people do when they see "U2:UV Live at Sphere Las Vegas," the world's best show, which opened Friday night in a huge dome near the Strip. The just-over-two-hour show is the pinnacle of the band's "bigger is better" philosophy, which has been present throughout their career, and which they're not about to give up just because they're in their 60s.