U2 opened its long-awaited U2:UV residence at The Sphere in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29 and 30, with a pair of identical two-hour shows that spotlighted the band's 1991 album Achtung Baby as well as selected favorites from the rest of its catalog. The shows drew particular acclaim for The Sphere's floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree screen, which Billboard reported as “making it unclear if the floor or the stage might be moving or if your mind was just playing tricks on you” and dubbed U2 “exactly the right band to welcome the mind-blowing space.” Each night opened with the first eight tracks from “Achtung Baby,” then broke for an acoustic set featuring four songs from 1988's “Rattle and Hum.” U2 then finished with four more “Achtung Baby” songs and encored with six hits — “Elevation,” the new single “Atomic City,” “Vertigo,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “With Or Without You” and “Beautiful Day.”
U2 bassist Adam Clayton tells us that he's happy to have U2 back to playing live for the since the “Joshua Tree” 30th anniversary tour finished during December of 2019: “Y'know, I've always liked playing…” to “…and they take you with you if you're lucky.” : 36 (OC: If You’re Lucky)
Frontman Bono inserted snippets of other songs into some of the performances and on Friday paid tribute to Elvis Presley's history of performing in Las Vegas, calling the opulent Sphere “an Elvis chapel and an Elvis cathedral” and declaring that “Elvis has definitely not left this building.”
On opening night the group also paid tribute to drummer Larry Mullen Jr. at the end of “All I Want Is You.” Mullen has taken a year off from performing to tend to wear-and-tear and injuries he's suffered over the band's 45 years. Bono noted that “not since October 1978 have we played a show without Larry Mullen.” Mullen's temporary replacement, Bram van den Berg, celebrated his birthday on Friday night and told the crowd that, “Let there be no mistake about it, there is only one Larry Mullen Jr.”
On opening night U2 also paid tribute to Paul McCartney, who was in attendance and shouted out by Bono; “Macca is in the house tonight. Paul McCartney is here. Just know that we love you and we've stole a lot of your songs.” U2 included a bit of “Love Me Do” at the end of “Desire” and incorporated part of the “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” and “Blackbird” into the show-closing “Beautiful Day.”
Other celebrities attending opening night included Adam Scott, Andre Agassi, Ava DuVernay, Bobby Shriver, Bryan Cranston, Chelsea Clinton, Chris Blackwell, Connie Britton, Dakota Fanning, Darren Aronofsky, Diplo, Dr. Dre, Elizabeth Banks, Flava Flav, Gayle King, Guy Oseary, Henrik Lundqvist, Jane Buffet, Jane Seymour, Jason Bateman, Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Iovine, Jimmy Kimmel, John Starks, Jon Hamm, Josh Duhamel, Katy Perry, Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Lebron James, Luke Wilson, Oprah, Orlando Bloom, Oscar De La Hoya, Mario Lopez, Maria Sharapova, Martin Garrix, Matt Damon, Michael Rapino, Neil Patrick Harris, original U2 manager Paul McGuinness, Sheryl Sandberg, Skylar Astin, Snoop Dogg, Tom Schanley, Zane Lowe and more.
The U2:UV will be at the Sphere Oct. 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 24, 27 and 28; Nov. 1, 3 and 4; and Dec. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16.
Earlier this year the group released “Songs of Surrender,” on which it reimagined 40 of its songs with new arrangements and, in some cases, lyrics.