U2 x Sphere: The General Admission Experience

Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas Sphere, Las Vegas
The U2 GA experience at the Sphere in Las Vegas
(All photos taken on the iPhone 15 Pro Max)

Chapters:   Achtung Baby Live  •  The GA Line  •  Zoo Station at the Venetian  •  Sphere Experience and Postcard from Earth  •  Vegas Legends  •  Venetian and Tao Beach  •  Vegas, Baby!  •  Acrobat

“One life, you got to do what you should. One life with each other. Sisters, brothers.
One life, but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other, carry each other. One.”
One from Achtung Baby, lyrics by U2

“4 o’clock in the morning is not when I shine. It’s been documented quite well.”
Mattopia Jones
(comment made to the Times over a pint of Guinness and a massive plate full of Irish chips at the Ri Ra Irish pub in the Mandalay Bay casino)

Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the Moon

4:00 in the morning. That’s when things tend to get weird while on the road.

4:00 in the morning is when I found myself in a seedy travel office, sitting under a flourescent light and across a metal desk from a guy whose job it was – in the pre-dawn hours – to sell me on a tour guide package to the Taj Mahal in Agra, that after my having been whisked away from the train station amid strikes and service disruptions. Long story, one involving civil unrest on the streets and all sorts of delays in services around India. That was shortly after the Joshua Tree anniversary tour concluded in Mumbai in U2019.

4:00 in the morning on the train platform at Amsterdam Centraal, 24 November U2022. Surrounded by a Mariachi band and other colorful characters after winding up my personal whirlwind Stories of Surrender tour in Manchester, England. Not exactly across the street – Manchester to Amsterdam – but train service limitations once again conspired.

Then there was that weekend in Vegas, baby. 20-21 October U2023. Sometimes – albeit ever so rarely – what happens in Vegas needs to be shared outside of Vegas.

4:00 wasn’t merely a moment in time. It morphed into an entire theme.

I slept in my rocker-glider; intentionally making it harder to sleep, but easier to wake up at 3:45 to get ready and head out for a 6:30 flight. That was Thursday, 19 October.

On Friday, up at 6:00 to check on the GA line for Saturday night’s show. Then, as a volunteer line monitor, line duty from 17:00-21:00 Friday evening. A burger, a couple pints and a few hours of sleep later, thankfully with my biological alarm clock of natural discontent and GA line-driven angst successfully compensating for my iPhone’s “sleep” mode, which disabled an alarm set for 3:20 Saturday morning so I could do my 4:00 check-in at the Sphere.

It’s chilly and dark at 3:20 in the morning in Vegas in October. (Fun fact.)

The first wristband. A hearty breakfast. Some pool time. Then showtime.

A great U2 experience, front and center. Right smack-dab in front of the center of the stage, right off the rail.

But the saga continued Sunday evening at the airport. Numerous flight delays, racking up to 4 1/2 hours. A 23:43 departure (instead of 19:15) and a Denver arrival at – cough – 2:22 Monday morning.

Incredibly, back at home at... Take a guess. Yeah. 3:45.

U2’s Atomic City Instagram filter in action
(Shot on the iPhone 15 Pro Max)

General Admission in Atomic City

U2 have been doing general admission ticketing on the floor around the stage since the Elevation tour in 2001. It creates the most fantastic concert experience imaginable when it’s managed, even just a little bit, with venue and fan coordination.

Think about how far things have come during the past 22 years.

Finally, the “powers that be” are getting the message that scalping is evil. Finally, tickets for U2’s Sphere shows are only digitally accessible. No more printed tickets. No more PDFs. And now tickets can be locked down and only resold at face value (including the fees). That is how the bots are defeated. Without the enticement of buying tickets strictly to dump them on the resale market for a profit, the bad actors have no incentive to spend the money to build, maintain and run the bots.


Sure, the ticketing transfer rules are perhaps too tight for practicality, but there are work arounds. One is to keep your party together. Another is to share the Ticketmaster login to access the needed ticket (then change that password!). Tech ignorance isn’t a valid excuse (and I’ve heard it) when a 1-minute tutorial would open a whole new world to those still living in the days of printed tickets.

And in recent years venues have instituted “no camping” policies on facility grounds. That’s led to more humane GA line management. Infrequent check-ins, perhaps at less-than-ideal times (and, yes, during the show if there is one the night before) are a reasonable compromise compared to baking in the sun or freezing in the snow (I’ve done both) all day in order to maintain one’s spot on the line. (And, as a bonus, when traveling, that frees up time to explore the city!)

According to Sphere facilities management, there are 1,500 people on the floor in general admission. That’s 1,500 people essentially allowed to “be loose.” No seats. Just space.

Is it unreasonable to…

  • Ask for your entire party to be present before giving you a number? (Many restaurants do this, too. All members of your party must be present before being seated.)
  • Be respectful of line organizers?
  • Not bully and intimidate fellow U2 fans? (Have you listened to a single U2 song? Like, I mean, comprehended the lyrics?)
  • Do check-ins as a way of acknowledging the venue’s request there be no camping, while also providing a mechanism to have fans put some skin in the game to get that valued spot on the floor (particularly the “high rent” district in front of the stage)?

The Ticket Rules

Happy to report the band is doing the right thing for the fans. Why this policy hasn’t been put into place for all ticketed events is beyond me. It’s what I’ve been begging for while railing against scalping.

From Ticketmaster:

“Because the artist wants to make sure you only pay face value, tickets for this show are transfer-restricted. All guests will be required to enter together with the original ticket purchaser. If you are unable to make it to the show, you can re-sell your ticket at face value on Ticketmaster's Fan-to-Fan Face Value Ticket Exchange program.(Details below). Ticketmaster's Face Value Ticket Exchange will allow fans to offer their tickets for resale at the original price they paid (including all taxes and fees). This exchange is the ONLY way a ticket can be moved to a different Ticketmaster account once purchased. No prices above face value can be offered, removing any ability to profit from a resold ticket. Tickets listed on the Exchange are made available on a first come, first served basis.There are no additional fees charged for buying or selling tickets on the Exchange, which will launch after the Ticket Request program has been completed, and tickets have been distributed to fans.”

The Result

Checking on ticket availability throughout the run, it’s astonishing the complete lack of tickets being put up for resale (at, of course, face value). So, proof when tickets are sold to the fans, they’ll actually get used instead of a greedy scalper throwing them back in the pool in hopes of making a profit.

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I Go There With You...

U2: Joshua Tree Tour 2017

Mattopia Jones covers the world's loudest folk band:
5 continents • 19 countries
39 cities • 11 tours • 48 venues
77 shows • 1 Sphere
3 special appearances
6 boys dreaming out loud
0 restraining orders

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The Stories of Surrender one-man theatrical stage show was conceived as a promotional book tour for Bono’s phenomenal “MEmoir” and the tour expanded into an extended series of shows on Broadway.

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