U2 prepares to open new Las Vegas residency at cutting-edge venue Sphere

U2 is set to make history Friday as the first band ever to take the stage at Sphere, a cutting-edge spherical venue that graces the Las Vegas skyline.

The performance will be the band’s first concert of their residency series at Sphere, which is located at The Venetian Resort and has a programmable LED exterior for displaying wrap-around motion graphics. The venue is equipped with an astounding 160,000 speakers and over 260 million video pixels — which offers awe-inspiring visuals.

“That’s the thing about the resolution of this screen and photoreal potential of it is that if you show what’s outside the building on this wrap-around screen, the building disappears,” said U2’s lead singer Bono.

The band recently had their first rehearsal there — and it “didn’t go very well,” Bono said, laughing.

For decades, U2 has been a band that revels in spectacle. Their live shows have always pushed technological boundaries. In the early 1990s, U2’s Zoo TV Tour reinvented the rock concert with a massive video wall.

“That’s what we started out wanting from the very beginning of the band is just to smash the fourth wall, get to our audience,” Bono said.

The band has collaborated with visual artists like Marco Brambilla and Es Devlin to create a truly immersive experience for Friday’s performance, which Bono and U2’s lead guitarist and keyboardist, the Edge, jokingly said will also feature new dance moves.

Willie Williams, U2’s creative director for more than 40 years, who designed the U2 360° Tour, said he has “no idea” how the audience will respond when they see the inside of Sphere.

U2’s connection to Las Vegas goes back to 1987, when they shot a video for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on the Strip during The Joshua Tree Tour.

“Literally, we didn’t really have a plan. We just got out of the car, put the audio system in a shopping cart and just walked through Vegas, just playing along,” the Edge said.

This month, they returned to film the video for their new single, “Atomic City,” featuring drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who played despite recovering from surgery, but won’t be present for Sphere performances.

“Atomic City,” which will be released on Friday, hints at an upcoming rock and roll album.

“Edge started to fall back in love with himself. No, with the sound of the guitar … and the potential of the guitar. And we fell in love with that sound, too,” Bono said.

CBS News

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