U2 fans can finally mark their calendars for the blockbuster band’s long-awaited return to the stage.
The Grammy-winning rockers initially teased the fall dates in February during a Super Bowl spot, and on Monday they confirmed performances for “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere” in Las Vegas over two weekends: Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 5, 7 and 8.
The five-night stint will launch the Strip’s latest architectural feat — the Sphere at the Venetian Resort — and marks the group’s first live outing in four years and one of the few times U2 has performed without one of its original members. Bono, the Edge and Adam Clayton will be joined by drummer Bram van den Berg, who will be sitting at the kit instead of founding member Larry Mullen Jr., due to his recent health issues and following his allegations that the band had become a “benevolent dictatorship.”
The ambitious new concerts will focus on U2’s critically acclaimed 1991 LP, “Achtung Baby,” which was nominated for an album of the year Grammy Award in 1993 and won the prize for rock performance by a duo or group with vocal that same year. The album is credited with reviving the Irish band’s early-career slump and was the subject of Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim‘s 2011 documentary “From the Sky Down.” For the Sphere shows, the band re-teamed with longtime creative collaborator and show director Willie Williams, following the success of its acclaimed Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour and its 2018 Experience + Innocence indoor tour.
Anticipating high demand for the new concerts, the band and Sphere Entertainment announced the usage of Ticketmaster‘s still-embattled Verified Fan program to ensure more tickets get into the hands of fans who actually want to go to the show, rather than those looking to resell tickets. Registration is open for the Verified Fan presale and will close Wednesday. If tickets remain, general on-sale begins Friday.
“Tickets start at $140 and will reflect all-in pricing,” U2 and Sphere said Monday. “This means the ticket price listed is the full out-of-pocket price inclusive of taxes and fees. The larger capacity at Sphere allows for 60% of tickets to be priced under $300 and there will also be a limited number of premium priced tickets per show.”
And, in an effort to minimize resale and keep ticket prices at face value for fans, they said, general admission floor tickets for the shows will be restricted from transfer and can only be resold at the original purchase price.
The groundbreaking live performers have praised the new orb-like venue’s unique stage. The 17,500-seat arena, which Madison Square Garden Co. officials announced in 2018, has a scalable capacity of nearly 20,000 guests and is designed “with sound quality as a priority.” It boasts the first 16K screen “that wraps up, around, and behind the audience,” according to a press statement, and the immersive shows will include a gallery with U2’s music “all over the walls.”
“It’s not a line we just throw out, but the idea behind U2 is always to make the worst seat of the house the best of the house,” Bono said in a Monday preview of the venue with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “This changes the whole dynamic on that. Most music, over playing a theater, most music venues are sports venues. They’re stadiums, they’re arenas. They’re built for sports. They’re not built for music, they’re not built for art. So this building was built for immersive experiences in cinema and performance. … You can’t come here and see an ice hockey game. … There are no speakers. The entire building is a speaker. So wherever you are, you have perfect sound, is the plan.”
“The sound has been designed as a priority from the beginning,” the Edge added. “Best sound I’m sure we’ll ever hear. Really excited about it.”
While only five shows have been announced so far, Bono hinted at the possibility of more to come.
“We have to see if our audience love this. I think it’s going to be hard to get us out of here,” he said. “We’re not touring ‘Achtung Baby’ anyway. So with the Joshua Tree [tour], we took that album around the world. This will only be here.”
“Yes. But touring itself is not over. Don’t forget, it’s 18,000 to 20,000 people a night, so … you’re not going to be doing a hundred shows,” the Edge added.