“An unidentified object has been spotted over the skies,” the Super Bowl ad proclaims. No, it’s not a bird or a plane or the airborne objects recently shot down by the U.S. military, but the futuristic new MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. As promised in a somewhat cryptic press announcement Friday, U2 used the 15-second, high profile ad to confirm that the band will indeed be playing a run of dates at the state-of-the-art venue this fall.
Oh and the supernatural baby that was shown glowing from within the MSG Sphere in the teaser ad on Friday does indeed represent the Irish rock band’s seventh studio album, 1991’s Achtung Baby. A press release sent out following the Super Bowl placement explains that U2 will have the honor of launching the venue with the band’s new project called “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere.”
The residency marks the first performances for the band since U2’s Joshua Tree 30th anniversary stadium tour that wrapped in December 2019.
Sunday’s announcement notes that drummer Larry Mullen Jr. won’t be participating in the shows because he’ll be undergoing and recuperating from surgery. Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton will instead be joined onstage at MSG Sphere by drummer Bram van den Berg.
Fans will have to wait longer to find out details as far as show dates and ticket onsale info for “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere.” In the meantime, fans can register now via Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan. The site https://verifiedfan.livenation.com/u2 notes that U2.com subscribers will be able to access tickets first but those fans may still want to register with Verified Fan to receive all of the latest info.
MSG Sphere – which offers seating for 17,500 and a scalable capacity up to 20,000 guests – boasts “the first 16K screen that wraps up, around, and behind the audience;” 4D technology treating fans to the feel of “wind on their face, the heat on their skin and the rumble of thunder,” along with what’s being called pitch perfect audio via Sphere Immersive sound.
Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. Executive Chairman and CEO James L. Dolan said, “MSG Sphere’s advanced technology allows a legendary band like U2 to bring its music to life in entirely new ways. The Sphere is a new medium that will redefine entertainment.”
The Vegas residency is expected to begin sometime in September, based on Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s quarterly report released Feb. 9.
“Our fiscal second quarter results reflect ongoing operating momentum across our portfolio of live experiences,” Dolan said in a quote included in the quarterly report. “With our proposed spin-off expected to be completed by the end of March, and the anticipated opening of MSG Sphere in Las Vegas in September, we remain confident that the Company is well-positioned to drive long-term shareholder value.”
A full-length version of the video announcement is available for your viewing pleasure at www.U2xSPHERE.com, featuring a group of U2 fans from across the globe.
Bono, The Edge and Clayton said in a joint statement released Sunday: “It’s going to take all we’ve got to approach the Sphere without our bandmate in the drum seat, but Larry has joined us in welcoming Bram van den Berg who is a force in his own right.
“The Sphere show has been in the works for a long time. We don’t want to let people down, least of all our audience… the truth is we miss them as much as they appear to miss us… our audience was always the fifth member of the band. Bottom line, U2 hasn’t played live since December 2019 and we need to get back on stage and see the faces of our fans again. And what a unique stage they’re building for us out there in the desert… We’re the right band, ACHTUNG BABY the right album, and the Sphere the right venue to take the live experience of music to the next level… That’s what U2’s been trying to do all along with our satellite stages and video installations, most memorably on the ZOO TV Tour, which ended in Tokyo 30 years ago this Fall.
“The Sphere is more than just a venue, it’s a gallery and U2’s music is going to be all over the walls.”
The Edge added, “The beauty of the Sphere is not only the ground-breaking technology that will make it so unique, with the world’s most advanced audio system, integrated into a structure which is designed with sound quality as a priority; it’s also the possibilities around immersive experience in real and imaginary landscapes. In short, it’s a canvas of an unparalleled scale and image resolution and a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We all thought about it and decided we’d be mad not to accept the invitation.”
MSG Sphere London is in the planning process. A representative for MSG said the planning process for the London venue is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, with construction to follow.
The initial details about the venues were first unveiled during simultaneous presentations in February 2018, with Dolan breaking the news to an invited crowd at new York’s Radio City Music Hall and Irving Azoff, chairman and CEO of The Azoff Company and co-founder of OVG Group (Pollstar‘s parent company), presenting the news at the 2018 Pollstar Live! conference in Beverly Hills, California.
U2 signed with Irving and Jeffrey Azoff at Full Stop Management, following a decade of working with Guy Oseary, according to multiple reports in October. Full Stop Management was founded in 2015 by Jeffrey Azoff, Irving Azoff and Brandon Creed.
In November 2019, Pollstar named U2 as the top touring artist of the decade. At the time of publication, U2 had grossed $1.038 billion and sold 9,300,500 tickets on 255 shows – not counting the full “Joshua Tree 2019” run that hadn’t wrapped yet. The band hasn’t toured since, though Bono did hit the road in November in celebration of the release of his memoir, “Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story.”
In other U2 news, the band’s world premiere of the reimagined version of the track “One” took place during the NFL’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Super Bowl ceremony. U2 is releasing Songs Of Surrender – featuring 40 re-recorded versions of tunes from across its catalog – March 17.