U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere in Las Vegas

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U2:UV - Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere, Las Vegas
(Most photos are frames from videos; all were shot 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

“And if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”
Atomic City (written by U2, Debbie Harry and Giorgio Moroder)

“U2. Achtung Baby. Zooropa. ZOO-TV. These were the unnatural — ‘ubernatural’ — elements powering the electrical storm which forever changed my life: illuminating my path, showing me colors I have never seen and taking me to places I have never been.”
Mattopia Jones
(comment made to the Times via the Satellite of Love from parts unknown)

The “Mattphisto Jones” Leg

  1. 29 September U2023 (Opening night for the Sphere venue)
  2. 30 September U2023 (Sphere show #2)
  3. 5 October U2023 (Sphere show #3)
  4. 7 October U2023 (Sphere show #4)
  5. 21 October U2023 (Sphere show #11)
  6. 27 October U2023 (Sphere show #13)
  7. 16 December U2023 (Sphere show #25)
  8. 2 February U2024 (Sphere show #29)
  9. 3 February U2024 (Sphere show #30)
  10. 18 February U2024 (Sphere show #36)
  11. 1 March U2024 (Sphere show #39)
  12. 2 March U2024 (Sphere show #40)

Out of Office Message: “Achtung! I am currently wandering through the hype of Atomic City, where unprecedented ultraviolet rays are – in mysterious ways – creating significant levels of interference and feedback, forcing me off the grid. I’ll review and respond to your message as appropriate after I return. If you need immediate assistance in finding what you’re looking for, please contact [redacted].” (The message contains nine U2 references.)

Travel Dates

  1. 28 Sept. - 1 Oct. U2023 – Miles Walked: 26.7
  2. 5-9 Oct. U2023 – Miles Walked: 29.1
  3. 19-23 Oct. U2023 (includes 5 1/2-hour flight delay) – Miles Walked: 24.39
  4. 26-29 Oct. U2023 – Miles Walked: 22.7
  5. 15-17 Dec. U2023 – Miles Walked: 18.2
  6. 1-4 Feb. U2024 – Miles Walked: 24
  7. 15-20 Feb. U2024 – Miles Walked: 34.4
  8. 29 Feb. - 5 March U2024 – Miles Walked: 36.9

Total Miles Walked: 216.39

Panoramic view of the Sphere

Look Up and Spin Around

The details in U2’s Sphere experience are phenomenal. Upon entering the auditorium, you’re transported to an undefined place and time. The giant concrete slabs at the floor level, rising above the stage, are cold and imposing. Like the Berlin Wall. As the slabs edge higher, the dome shifts into an appearance like the Pantheon, complete with a circular opening at the top.

Keep an eye on that opening. You might spot a helicopter. Look closely and there’s a dove moving from perch to perch within the Pantheon’s cubes. Then it flies out the top.

All the while, the color seeping in from that opening slowly shifts from a daylight blue to dusk to dark.

As for the stage, the more I think about it, the more ingenius it becomes. Bono credits longtime collaborator Brian Eno for the design. You have to see it looking from above to truly appreciate it. It’s a turntable for vinyl records. Square. In the center, a circular platform for the LP – and the band. Plus, there’s a smaller platform in the center of the LP, kinda like a 45 RPM single adapter. That’s also for Bono. The LP spindle in the center of that smaller platform is his microphone stand. And, yeah, that 45 platform rotates as Bono spins ’round and ’round.

It’s even better than the real thing.

There are so many wonderful details so easily overshadowed by the spectacle and enormity of the Sphere itself.

Personal History Made at the Sphere

It took 71 shows and three personal appearances before I finally managed to be at the right place at the right time to be given a guitar pick from Dallas Shoo, The Edge’s guitar tech!

That was after the show. Before the show, standing in that one-and-the-same spot, the DJ, Pauli the PSM, gave me a little commemorative button.

As I look at them – and my wristbands – right now, I’m still as giddy as a schoolboy.

In between, my band rocked the house.

27 October U2023. What a night!

What could possibly top that?

3 February U2024: I touched Bono’s (luxuriously soft lambskin) black leather jacket when he lunged into the crowd during Until the End of the World!

What is that?

That is rock ‘n’ roll!

Spherical Trivia

  • First voice I heard over the Sphere's sound system upon entry for Show #1? Harrison Ford’s. They were playing the Blade Runner soundtrack. It was from the scene where he was talking to his computer, zooming in on the photo of Zhora.
  • As I walked down the steep steps to my seat for Show #1, I noticed some rigging still lying on the floor in the fifth row. Dutifully alerted security. It was cleared out.
  • Sphere’s official fact sheet states capacity is 17,600 seats plus 2,400 floor general admission, for a total capacity of 20,000. It is not clear if this represents the actual U2:UV capacity. Sphere personnel have indicated floor capacity with the U2 staging is 1,500, which would then yield a 19,100 total capacity. (Note: Floor ticketing seems to have increased during the run of shows; it’s much more crowded on the floor during recent shows and indicative of the capacity being closer to 2,400.)

The Zooropean Dispatch

“This is the first year in which Matty’s passions for both U2 and Indiana Jones have crossed paths to such a heightened extent. The result is a delightful and ridiculously entertaining high-water mark of adventure and creativity. It’s a felonious mischaracterization to describe him as merely ‘giddy as a schoolboy,’” from the Times op-ed column on 4 April U2023.

  • U2 will be the first act to perform at the Sphere at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • The Sphere is essentially on scale with an arena, but it’s designed specifically for concerts, cinema and other theatrical experiences. It is not for sporting events.
  • These will be the band’s first shows since Mumbai, India, on 15 December U2019. Mattopia Jones was there.
  • The first show at the Sphere will be on 29 September U2023. Mattopia Jones will be there.
  • Larry Mullen, Jr. — the drummer and the band’s founder — will be recuperating from surgery, so Bram van den Berg will fill in for these shows.
  • 1 million people registered for U2 tickets.
  • Initially, five dates were announced. An additional seven were added in short order. Then another five. That was all during the presale activities, before a single ticket went on sale to the “general public.”
  • An additional eight dates — 25 total — were set before the public on-sale, 19 May U2023.
  • U2 take most of November off, no doubt in part to avoid the madness of the Grand Prix Formula One race on 18 November, which passes right by the Sphere. Construction of viewing stands and other course facilities has disrupted a large part of the Strip. As a MINI Cooper S driver, those corners seem mighty tight to be hightailing it at 250 miles per hour.
  • For U2024, 11 dates in January and February were announced on 19 October U2023. (Note: Super Bowl LVIII will be played in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium on 11 February.)
  • Wallpaper: How to conquer the Atomic City: the story behind U2 at the new Las Vegas Sphere
  • On days when U2 aren’t performing, the Sphere offers Darren Aronofsky’s Postcard from Earth, an immersive movie experience supplemented with five lobby displays featuring interactive (but stationary) robots with the latest and greatest in artificial intelligence. Those shows started 6 October.
  • For February and March U2024, four more dates were announced on 4 December U2023, bringing the total number of shows to 40.
  • Phish will perform four shows — each with a unique setlist and experience — in mid-April.
  • Dead & Company will take over for 24 dates from May into July — while GA is more expensive, seats appear to be significantly cheaper than U2.

Guest List

The celebrities and notables I know of or heard about being at the shows I attended:

  • Jill Biden (2 March U2024)
  • Pierce Brosnan (rumored 2 March U2024)
  • Joe Buck
  • Jimmy Buffett’s family and doctor
  • Helena Christensen (1 March U2024)
  • George Clooney
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Dave Grohl (2 March U2024)
  • Daniel Lanois (on stage 2 March U2024)
  • Paul McCartney
  • Paul McGuinness
  • Larry Mullen, Jr. (in a suite 1 March U2024)
  • Cillian Murphy (rumored 2 March U2024)
  • Pres. Barack Obama (rumored 18 Feb. U2024)
  • Eddie Vedder

The Videos

The Baby
“This is not a rehearsal.”

(Shot on the iPhone 15 Pro Max)

The Trailer
“I mean, it’s complete madness, really. But we’d be mad not to.”
Willie Williams, U2’s creative director for live performances

The Tour

The Teaser

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