Toucher & Hardy

Toucher & Hardy

U2 performing at the Sphere in Las Vegas (credit: Rich Shertenlieb)

“Oh my god. Holy sh—. Are you f—-ing kidding me?” About three songs into U2’s set at The Sphere, this is what replaced the sound of an audience-wide singalong. An entire crowd having a borderline mental breakdown about what they were witnessing- the power of one of the worlds biggest bands using the world’s most high tech music venue to it’s highest capacity to blow minds.

And blow minds it did. At 516 feet wide and taller than a football field, The Sphere in Las Vegas has forever changed the game in live shows. The entirety of the inside walls sans seating is the highest def projection screen known today. You know your super-cool 4K TV you got at Best Buy? These screens are 18K. Behind those screens are the highest of high-tech speakers.

This place cost $2.3 billion, and it felt like every dollar was worth it. The Sphere is the ultimate fifth member of the band, elevating any song into a spectacle. But when that band is one already known for its over the top live shows, the result is quite simply astonishing.



U2 performing at the Sphere in Las Vegas (credit: Rich Shertenlieb)

The visuals are by design overwhelming. During “Even Better Than The Real Thing” it feels as if the floor is levitating as the wall and ceiling are filled with slowly descending pop-culture themed collages, creating a sensation that almost made me lose my balance. At some points the visuals are genuinely terrifying, but in a good way – like when you’re at the top of a roller coaster waiting for the drop.

During “The Fly”, a giant mass of digital 1s and 0s cluster together to give a look as if the roof is rapidly collapsing onto the crowd. During the entire duration of “Love Is Blindness”, we’re held inside an illusion of thousands of giant bugs landing one by one on the outside of the sphere blocking out the sun and trapping all of us concert goers inside.


U2 performing at the Sphere in Las Vegas (credit: Rich Shertenlieb)

Thankfully, there are breaks in the stimulus overload with more intimate, stripped down and mostly technology free moments interspersed. People have asked me if this is an experience best seen on drugs, my opinion is that they could either slightly enhance an already elevated experience, or quite possibly quickly turn the evening into a two hour hellscape.


    Simply the best sound I’ve ever heard at a live venue. I’ve read about how the Sphere was designed so that every seat achieved sonic perfection or something like that… I heard every single twang from The Edge’s Stratocaster, had my chest kicked in by Adam Clayton’s bassline, and heard every single yell and breathless mumble from Bono perfectly.


    Overlooked in all of the talk of the Sphere is that U2 is truly doing something special by playing “Achtung Baby” in its entirety. For big fans, that means hearing songs like “Acrobat” live that they almost never play in concert. They also wisely mix up the set list with a heavy amount of “Achtung” at the beginning, a more muted greatest hits in the middle, then they completed “Achtung,” ending with an encore full of their biggest hits.


    I had general admission tickets on the floor which relative to most concert venues is not that big an area. Needless to say if you’re on the floor, you’re right in the face of Bono and the Edge. Ironically, these are the least expensive tickets in the building since everyone wants to sit in the middle sections, the 200 or 300 to get the most of the visuals. This is truly a venue where the sheer enormity of it all makes it so you’re gonna be submerged in the chaos almost no matter where you sit.


    If there was ever a venue perfect for a Pink Floyd reunion, this is it. But I can only imagine what someone like Lady Gaga would do in a place like this… or oh my word if Tool was let loose. To be honest, U2 should just give up touring and do this for years to come, because I don’t know how they go back to normal venues after this.


    Rich Shertenlieb thinks U2 at The Sphere will melt your brain.



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