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The Eagles confirm Sphere residency

The Eagles have confirmed their long-rumoured residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

The American band will play eight shows over four weekends this autumn, offering fans “the ultimate connection to the band’s legendary catalogue in an immersive experience that only Sphere can provide”.

The shows will take place on 20-21 & 27-28 September and 11-12 & 18-19 October.

Tickets start at $175 and will reflect all-in pricing, while Vibee packages include a two-night stay at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas with guests receiving priority entry to Sphere, commemorative keepsakes, and access to a fan experience.  Limited VIP Ticket Packages will also be available.

“We will never have an act play the Sphere that doesn’t have something compelling up on the screen”

The next-generation $2.3 billion Sphere launched in September 2023 with the 40-night U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency, followed by a four-show stint by Phish last month. Dead & Company recently added six shows to their Dead Forever – Live at Sphere run at the 20,000-cap venue due to “increased demand” to take their total number of dates to 30.

“Every time an act books the Sphere, they have to create content around it,” said Sphere Entertainment boss Jim Dolan during the company’s most recent earnings call. “We will never have an act play the Sphere that doesn’t have something compelling up on the screen. It takes a while to do that, so we’re being too judicious about it. But the more an act plays the Sphere, like U2, the more they can monetise the content across multiple shows and therefore invest more on the content and create an even better show.”

The Eagles recently wrapped up a five-night UK stint at Manchester’s new Co-op Live as part of their Long Goodbye farewell tour and will perform a European stadium date with their first of two dates at Arnhem’s GelreDome in the Netherlands tonight (13 June).

The group, who are represented by manager Irving Azoff, revealed their plans to bring the curtain down on their 52-year career with one final tour last summer, beginning last September at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The tour is expected to continue into 2025, as “the band will perform as many shows in each market as their audience demands”.

 


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Latest Las Vegas Sphere residency extended

Dead & Company have added six shows to their acclaimed residency at the 20,000-cap Sphere in Las Vegas due to “increased demand”.

The band launched the Dead Forever – Live at Sphere run on 16 May and were originally due to wrap up on 13 July after eight weekends. However, they will now also perform from 1-3 & 8-10 August, bringing their total number of shows at the venue to 30. Tickets start at $145.

The next-generation $2.3 billion development launched in September 2023 with the 40-night U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency, followed by a four-show stint by Phish last month. Sphere Entertainment boss James Dolan appeared to confirm the Eagles would be next in line.

“Every time an act books the Sphere, they have to create content around it,” said Dolan during the company’s most recent earnings call. “We will never have an act play the Sphere that doesn’t have something compelling up on the screen. It takes a while to do that, so we’re being too judicious about it. But the more an act plays the Sphere, like U2, the more they can monetise the content across multiple shows and therefore invest more on the content and create an even better show. That’s what we’re seeing now.

A centralised hub, the Dead Forever Experience, has been set up at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas to coincide with the shows

“[Dead & Company] premieres on Thursday [16 May]. And I think you’re going to find that — even if you’re not a Deadhead – you’re going to love that show. And I think the same will be true for the Eagles and for the next acts that we bring on.”

Dead & Company, who comprise John Mayer, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti, perform Grateful Dead covers and have completed 10 tours, playing to more than four million fans across 235 shows and breaking multiple records.

The band’s most recent outing, The Final Tour, generated more than US$100 million – the highest annual gross ever recorded on the road during the band’s eight-year run.

A centralised hub, the Dead Forever Experience, has been set up at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas to coincide with the shows, offering a space to gather, explore immersive exhibits and participate in interactive activities, as well as purchase exclusive merchandise.

 


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Sphere #2: Talks ongoing ‘with several markets’

Sphere Entertainment boss Jim Dolan has revealed talks are ongoing with “several” markets about constructing a second Sphere venue.

The futuristic $2.3 billion development launched in Las Vegas in September 2023 with the 40-night U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency, and while a proposed London replica was aborted in acrimonious circumstances, other territories such as the UAE have remained in the frame.

Speaking during the Madison Square Garden spin-off’s fiscal Q3 2024 earnings call, Dolan denied there had been any “hold-up” with the plans, but advised that building another Sphere was no simple feat.

“It’s not like building a McDonald’s; it’s complicated,” said the executive chair and CEO. “It’s a very expensive project. This will only be the second one… in the world that has been built. And so working out all the details and the construction cost and the relationships that are in there does take time.

“There has been plenty of interest over the year, but [it wasn’t] until we launched the product in late September that people really got to see what it was and began to see how it can perform.

“With all that, though, we are in discussions with several markets. We think we’re going to conclude at least one of those markets soon. How soon? I’m not going to predict, but soon. And we continue to hear from new markets too. As the Sphere becomes better known and people begin to understand the economics behind it and what it can do for our marketplace, the interest remains strong.”

“We will never have an act play the Sphere that doesn’t have something compelling up on the screen”

Dolan also appeared to confirm longstanding rumours that the Eagles would be next in line for a Sphere residency after U2, Phish and Dead & Company.

“We’re looking for the acts that are the biggest draws, and we are in discussions with a whole bunch of those,” he said. “Remember, every time an act books the Sphere, they have to create content around it. We will never have an act play the Sphere that doesn’t have something compelling up on the screen. It takes a while to do that, so we’re being too judicious about it. But the more an act plays the Sphere, like U2, the more they can monetise the content across multiple shows and therefore invest more on the content and create an even better show. That’s what we’re seeing now.

“[Dead & Company] premieres on Thursday [16 May]. And I think you’re going to find that — even if you’re not a Deadhead – you’re going to love that show. And I think the same will be true for the Eagles and for the next acts that we bring on.”

For the fiscal 2024 third quarter, the Sphere segment posted revenues of $170.4m – an increase of $169.7m year-on-year. Its operating loss of $83.5m was an improvement of $28.9 million on the prior year quarter, Event-related revenues were $34.3m, while revenues from sponsorship, signage, Exosphere advertising and suite licence fees were $32.9m. Adjusted operating income was $12.9m.

“Our early results continue to demonstrate Sphere’s potential to disrupt the traditional venue model”

“Since its October debut, the signature content category has already generated over $200 million in revenue,” noted Dolan. “That includes more than $1 million in average daily ticket sales in both the second and third quarters. These results reinforce our belief in the value of original content. And we are now developing new cinematic offerings to strengthen this core category.

“On the concert front, headline acts are seeing the advantages of performing at Sphere. U2’s 40 show run grew an audience on par with a national arena tour. Phish sold out its four nights in less than one hour. And Dead & Co. has already extended their upcoming residency.”

Sphere Entertainment reported an operating loss of $40.4m – an improvement of $61.5m compared to the prior year quarter – on revenues of $321.3m (up from $159.3m y-o-y). AOI was $61.5m, as compared to an adjusted operating loss of $18.7m 12 months previously.

“With the second consecutive quarter of robust revenues and positive adjusted operating income at the Sphere segment, our early results continue to demonstrate Sphere’s potential to disrupt the traditional venue model,” concluded Dolan. “We are encouraged by the demand for this new medium and remain confident in our future growth opportunities.”

Today (13 May), Sphere Entertainment announced it has acquired all of the remaining shares it did not previously own of 3D audio technology firm HOLOPLOT, having made its first investment into the leading global company in 2018 when the two companies partnered to develop Sphere Immersive Sound.

 


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Second Las Vegas Sphere residency wraps up

Rock group Phish have become the second act to complete a residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

The US jam band delivered a four-show stint at the 17,500-seat/20,000-cap venue from 18-21 April to follow in the footsteps of U2, who launched the $2.3 billion next-generation venue – the brainchild of Madison Square Garden boss James Dolan – last September.

The group did not repeat any songs over the four-night run, while each performance’s visuals were different and even improvised in the moment.

“All of our visuals can be executed, modified, and manipulated in real time,” co-creative director Abigail Rosen Holmes tells CNN. “They… follow the band’s musical performance, rather than being locked in, allowing Phish to play as freely as they would at any other show.”

The Sphere features a 160,000 sq. foot LED display inside the main venue, which wraps up, over and around the audience for a fully immersive experience in cutting-edge 16K x 16K resolution.

“The emotions of the music, mixed cohesively with the visuals on the screen, create an emphatic moment only truly felt by those in the venue”

Daniel Jean of Montreal-based multimedia studio Moment House, which co-produced the visuals for the concerts, says the technology “has opened the door to creativity in ways we haven’t been able to explore before”.

“The emotions of the music, mixed cohesively with the visuals on the screen, create an emphatic moment only truly felt by those in the venue,” he adds, speaking to CNN.

U2’s acclaimed U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere run, which was staged in partnership with Live Nation and Sphere Entertainment, saw the Irish group play to fans from over 100 countries from 29 September 2023 to 2 March 2024. The show grossed $244.5 million from 663,000 tickets sold across 40 sold-out dates to become the fourth-highest-grossing concert residency of all time, according to Billboard Boxscore.

Dead & Company will follow with 24 concerts from 16 May to 13 July, with a different setlist performed each weekend. General admission tickets are priced between $145 and $395.

No other artists have yet been announced for the venue, but the Eagles are heavily rumoured to be lining up a residency for the autumn.

 


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U2’s Sphere run closes after 700k+ ticket sales

U2 sold more than 700,000 tickets for their groundbreaking residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas, which wrapped up earlier this month.

In partnership with Live Nation and Sphere Entertainment, the band played to fans from over 100 countries across 40 sold-out dates from 29 September 2023 to 2 March 2024. Tickets started at US$140 (€129), with 60% of tickets priced under $300.

The acclaimed U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere run at the next-generation 17,500-seat/20,000-cap venue saw Dutch musician Bram van den Berg step in as a temporary replacement for drummer Larry Mullen Jr, who was taking time out due to surgery.

Mullen was in attendance for the Friday night of the closing weekend, later posting to the group’s social media: “What an incredible night at Sphere. So grateful to Bono, Edge and Adam and of course Bram for an amazing job, very emotional night for me personally.”

The Eagles have reportedly been in talks over a potential Sphere residency for later this year

The project saw the group reunite with creative collaborator and show director Willie Williams, as well as artists including Es Devlin, John Gerrard and Marco Brambilla. Billboard Boxscore reported that the first 17 shows grossed $109.8 million and sold 281,000 tickets, making it the fastest-grossing residency in Boxscore history.

American rock band Phish are the next major act lined up to play at the Sphere and will deliver a four-show stint at the 17,500-seat/20,000-cap venue from 18-21 April 2024, with Dead & Company to follow with 18 concerts across six consecutive weeks from 16 May to 6 June, with a different setlist performed each weekend.

TMZ recently reported the Eagles have been in talks over a potential Sphere residency to launch in the autumn. The band are currently in the midst of their final tour, titled The Long Goodbye, which is expected to run to 2025.

In its latest financial results, the Sphere in Las Vegas posted losses of US$193.9m for fiscal 2024 Q2 – its first full quarter of operation – on revenue of $167.8m. Sphere Entertainment reported event-related revenues of $55.2m, almost entirely from concerts, for the quarter.

 


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Sphere posts losses for fiscal 2024 Q2

The Sphere in Las Vegas has posted losses of US$193.9 million (€179.4m) for fiscal 2024 Q2 – its first full quarter of operation – on revenue of $167.8m.

The next-generation 17,500-seat/20,000-cap Sphere opened in Vegas in September 2023 with U2’s residency, U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere. Every show of the U2 run, which wraps up next month after 40 shows and multiple extensions, has sold out so far, with upcoming stints by Phish and Dead & Company set to follow.

According to the company’s latest financial results, which cover the three-month period ending 31 December 2023, the majority of the Sphere’s losses resulted from a non-cash impairment charge of $116.5m in the current year quarter related to the company’s decision to no longer pursue the development of a London replica.

Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment officially withdrew its planning application for the London Sphere project last month – more than five years after the scheme was first announced.

Sphere Entertainment reported event-related revenues of $55.2m, almost entirely from concerts, apart from one marquee sporting event held at the venue during the quarter.

“Sphere is a next-generation medium intended to disrupt the traditional venue model”

The Sphere Experience featuring Postcard from Earth also generated $92.9m across 191 performances after debuting on 6 October, grossing more than £1m in average daily ticket sales.  In addition, sponsorship, signage, Exosphere advertising and suite licence fees brought in $17.5m.

“Sphere is a next-generation medium intended to disrupt the traditional venue model,” says Sphere Entertainment executive chair and CEO James Dolan. “With positive adjusted operating income at the Sphere segment in our first full quarter of operations in Las Vegas, our early results are beginning to prove that thesis, and we remain confident in the global opportunities ahead.”

In December last year, Dolan was reported to be in “serious talks” to build a second Sphere venue – this time in the UAE – which would become MSG’s first property outside of the US.

MSG spin-off Sphere Entertainment encompasses the first Sphere venue as well as MSG Networks and Tao Group Hospitality businesses. The company reported revenues of $314.2m, an increase of $154.6m on the prior year quarter, and an operating loss of $159.7m, (up from the prior year’s quarter $109.9m). Adjusted operating income was $51.4m, compared to $13.2m in the same quarter last year.

 


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Burna Boy, U2 and more perform at Grammys

The 66th edition of the Grammy Awards took place last night (4 February) at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, with performances from U2, Burna Boy, Miley Cyrus and more.

U2 joined the annual awards ceremony from inside the Sphere in Las Vegas, where the Dublin-hailing band currently has a residency.

“Remember, no television cameras have ever been allowed inside until right now,” said host Trevor Noah before the broadcast of the band performing Atomic City.

Elsewhere, Burna Boy made history as the first Afro-fusion artist to perform at the Grammys. The Nigerian artist performed On Form, City Boys, and Sitting on Top of the World – the latter of which featured 21 Savage and Brandi.

Performing at the Grammys for the first time ever was 80-year-old Joni Mitchell, who treated the audience to her 1966 hit Both Sides Now. The song also appears on her 2023 live album, Joni Mitchell At Newport, which took home the golden gramophone for Best Folk Album.

Miley Cyrus’s hit song Flowers received its first-ever televised performance at the ceremony. She went on to win Record of the Year and Best Solo Pop Performance for the same song.

“Music must always be our safe space… when that’s violated it strikes at the very core of who we are”

SZA – the most-nominated artist of the 2024 Grammy Awards, with nine nods – also graced the stage with her double performance of Snooze and Kill Bill.

She picked up the awards for Best Progressive R&B Album for SOS and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for Ghost In The Machine featuring Phoebe Bridgers. Bridgers scooped up three more awards with her band boygenius and went home with the most awards of any artist that night.

The other big awards of the night were handed out for Taylor Swift’s Midnights (Album of the Year), Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For (Song of the Year) and Victoria Monét (Best New Artist).

Elsewhere, three new categories debuted: Best African Music Performance (Tyla), Best Alternative Jazz Album (Meshell Ndegeocello) and Best Pop Dance Recording (Kylie Minogue).

The ceremony also saw Harvey Mason Jr, The Recording Academy CEO, honour the victims of last year’s Israel Supernova Festival attack during his speech.

“Music must always be our safe space,” he said. “When that’s violated it strikes at the very core of who we are. We felt that at the Bataclan music hall in Paris. We felt that at the Manchester Arena, in England. We felt that at the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas. And on October 7, we felt that again when we heard the tragic news from the Supernova music festival for love, that over 360 music fans lost their lives, and another 40 were kidnapped.”

Other performances on the night came from Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, Olivia Rodrigo, Dua Lipa, Luke Coombs and Tracy Chapman.

 


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U2 announce final four Las Vegas Sphere dates

U2 have added a final four dates to their groundbreaking U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency in Las Vegas, bringing the band’s run to a total of 40 nights.

Sphere Entertainment and Live Nation have confirmed the additional shows, set for 23-24 February and 1-2 March 2024, following “overwhelming, sustained demand”. Tickets start at US$140 (€132), with 60% of tickets priced under $300.

The Irish rock legends launched the run to rave reviews on 29 September to open the $2.3 billion venue. Dutch musician Bram van den Berg has stepped in as a temporary replacement for drummer Larry Mullen Jr, who is taking time out due to surgery.

The project has seen the group reunite with creative collaborator and show director Willie Williams, as well as artists including Es Devlin, John Gerrard and Marco Brambilla. Billboard Boxscore reported that the first 17 shows grossed $109.8 million and sold 281,000 tickets, making it the fastest-grossing residency in Boxscore history.

The brainchild of Madison Square Garden boss James Dolan, the Sphere features a 160,000 sq. foot LED display inside the main venue, which wraps up, over and around the audience for a fully immersive experience in cutting-edge 16K x 16K resolution.

American rock band Phish are the next major act lined up to play at the Sphere and will deliver a four-show run at the 17,500-seat/20,000-cap venue from 18-21 April 2024, with each night set to feature a unique setlist and visuals.

“The entire five-year planning process was hijacked by the Mayor and his bogus last-minute report”

The New York Post reported last month that Beyoncé is in talks over a potential Sphere residency, with Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga also rumoured to be in consideration.

It emerged last week, meanwhile, that the UK government has stepped in to prevent plans for an MSG Sphere in London from being scrapped. Levelling-up secretary Michael Gove has ordered a six-week pause as he considers whether to call in the application for the development on the edge of the Olympic Park in Stratford.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan earlier rejected proposals for the 21,500-capacity venue, stating concerns about the amount of light pollution that it would cause for residents. But Gove’s department, which has the power to overrule the Mayor, subsequently wrote to the London Legacy Development Corporation to instruct it not to deny planning permission at this stage.

Sphere Entertainment, which said it was focusing on the “many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities” in the wake of Khan’s refusal, hit out at the Mayor’s ruling in a new statement issued following Gove’s intervention.

“The entire five-year planning process was hijacked by the Mayor and his bogus last-minute report,” says a Sphere spokesperson. “Londoners should be dismayed that they are not going to benefit from this groundbreaking project, and others looking to invest in London should certainly be wary. Moreso, everyone should be alarmed by how easily the government’s established process was tossed aside by one politically motivated official.

“Mr Gove’s action, although commendable, still appears to us to be more of the same, and we cannot continue to participate in a process that can be so easily undermined by political winds. As we said previously, we will focus on the many forward-thinking cities.”

 


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Sphere expects two more residencies for H1 ’24

James Dolan has revealed the Sphere in Las Vegas expects to host two more residencies in the first half of 2024 in the wake of U2’s acclaimed run.

The Sphere Entertainment executive chair and CEO addressed investors this week during the company’s first earnings call since the opening of the futuristic $2.3 billion venue on 29 September.

According to the filing for fiscal Q1 2024 – covering the three-month period ending 30 September 2023 – the first two U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere dates earned a total of $4.1m. The band’s residency was recently extended to 36 shows, running until 18 February 2024, and Dolan reported that discussions were ongoing with other artists regarding runs of varying lengths.

“Every U2 show so far has been sold out,” said Dolan. “The incredible response to U2’s run at Sphere has only increased interest from the artist community to play the venue, and we’re having conversations with artists across a wide variety of genres. We expect to host two additional residencies in the second half of this fiscal year and look forward to sharing more detail.”

The Madison Square Garden spin-off posted revenue of $118 million for the quarter, as well as an operating loss of $69m and an adjusted operating loss of $57.9m, but Dolan said its long-term prospects were very positive.

“While it will take some time for Sphere to realise its full potential, we’re off to a great start,” he said. “We are already seeing Sphere’s ability to inspire all and wonder, and the venue has become a landmark destination in Las Vegas, but we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface and are excited by how much further we can take this new entertainment media in the future, including to new markets.

“While you should not expect the venue to reach its full economic potential right away, our momentum is building with artists, promoters, sponsors and guests from across the globe, and we remain confident in the long-term outlook for Sphere.”

Dolan outlined the plan to make the Sphere a 365-day-a-year venue, hosting “multiple events per day on many days”. He added that the “Sphere Experience” concept, which debuted on 6 October with the Darren Aronofsky-directed immersive production Postcard from Earth, was a “core component” of that strategy.

“Through the end of October, we have grossed over $1 million in average daily ticket sales each day”

“We’ve been very pleased with the reception of the Sphere Experience from our guests as well as the critical claim Postcard from Earth has received for its captivating visuals and use of the venue’s immersive technologies to engage the senses and enchant our audiences,” he said.

“This has translated into strong ticket sales to date. Through the end of October, we have grossed over $1 million in average daily ticket sales each day. As we learn more about our audiences and the venue, we’re already planning ways to continue enhancing the signature content category.

“This is the first of what will be different iterations of the Sphere experience. That includes populating the atrium with additional technology exhibits and at time introducing new cinematic content as we keep Sphere at the forefront of innovative experiences.”

Both the U2 residency and Sphere Experience will take short breaks while Formula 1 begin’s a planned multi-day takeover of Sphere in the run-up to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on 19 November.

Earlier this week, Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) reported revenue of $142.2m in its fiscal 2024 first quarter, down 3% ($4.2m) year over year. The financial results were MSGE’s first as a standalone live entertainment company after it spun off from MSG’s Sphere and MSG Networks businesses in April.

MSGE – which owns venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre – said the decrease “primarily reflected a lower number of concerts”, compared to the prior year quarter.

Meanwhile, Sphere Entertainment has acknowledged the departure of CFO Gautam Ranji, who stepped down on 3 November. An SEC filing said his exit was “not a result of any disagreement with the company’s independent auditors or any member of management on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure or internal controls”.

“We thank him for all of his contributions during his time at the company and wish him well in his future endeavours,” added Dolan.

 


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U2’s Las Vegas Sphere premiere wows critics

U2 have won widespread critical acclaim after ushering in “a new era in live entertainment” with the premiere of their U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency.

The Irish legends launched the 25-show run on Friday (29 September) to open Sphere Entertainment’s $2.3 billion Sphere at The Venetian in Las Vegas, US.

Based around U2’s classic 1991 album Achtung Baby, the residency at the cutting-edge 17,500-seat/20,000-cap venue marks the band’s first live concerts since 2019. Dutch musician Bram van den Berg has stepped in as a temporary replacement for drummer Larry Mullen Jr, who will miss the gigs as he takes time out due to surgery.

The fully-immersive show, which sees the group reunite with longtime creative collaborator and show director Willie Williams, utilises every part of Sphere’s LED screen – showcasing bespoke art from renowned artists including Es Devlin, John Gerrard, Marco Brambilla and Industrial Light & Magic, while performing on a Brian Eno-inspired turntable stage.

Variety‘s Chris Willman lauded the performance as “the greatest-show-on-earth”, concluding that it “marks the apotheosis of a bigger-is-better ethos that has regularly occurred throughout the band’s career”.

“What U2 are doing in the Sphere is going to have an impact on the whole of live entertainment”

“Not to take any credit away from U2, but the most impressive moment of the Sphere show may be when you first walk in the room,” added Willman. “And that happens on two levels, literally. Above you, that massive domed ceiling has been made to look like you are in some industrial grain silo that has been constructed sky-high.

“It’s an immediate indication of some of the offbeat photorealism you will be in for. But at the same time, if you’re on one of the lower levels of the multi-tiered auditorium, looking out over the general-admission SRO floor, and block out what’s hovering over you (which is surprisingly easy to do), you suddenly feel like you’re in the world’s coolest nightclub.”

The Telegraph‘s Neil McCormick rated the show 5/5, adding: “In the wrong hands, this technology could be quite nauseating. But U2 are past masters when it comes to the emotional dynamics of a show… The focus (for the most part) remained very much on the band on a surprisingly spartan stage, with nothing between them and the audience. They may have been high-definition on the vast screen, but they were also right there in the flesh.

“They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Not this time, I think. What U2 are doing in the Sphere is going to have an impact on the whole of live entertainment.”

“It works so well that, like Abba’s Voyage show, you leave feeling confident this is an idea others are going to copy”

In another five-star review, the Guardian‘s Alexis Petridis concluded: “This cocktail of eye-popping visuals and slightly unruly performances absolutely works, allaying any concerns that a band from the post-punk era and the old showbiz connotations of a residency in Las Vegas constitute a slightly uncomfortable fit, regardless of how many millions of records the band has sold, or how mainstream an audience they’ve attracted in the interim. Indeed, it works so well that, like Abba’s Voyage show, you leave feeling confident this is an idea others are going to copy.”

NME also awarded the gig full marks, with Damian Jones writing: “Despite the early onslaught of breathtaking visuals, surprisingly the band almost abandon them for a good middle section of the show.

“Edge previously pointed out that U2 are taking the live concert experience ‘to the next level’ and this opening night does a fine balancing act of doing just that while also ensuring their music remains very much at the forefront.”

The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica was rather less complimentary, writing: “Impressively detailed and lightly shocking, Sphere registers in intensity if not scale — at 366 feet, it is not even one of the 40 tallest buildings in Las Vegas. But on some level, its power is grounded simply in the novelty of the shape, even in a town that already has a pyramid and a palace and a castle.

“But inside it is, simply, a concert venue, albeit one with distinct advantages and challenges. In dry stretches, when the space between the band and the huge screen and the crowd was palpable, the result paralleled the airy emptiness of a corporate convention gig. In a stadium show, you can almost obscure a low-enthusiasm performance — here there was nowhere to hide.

“That’s because, despite the visual ambition the space demands, little of that burden falls on the band itself, which is largely confined to the size of stage one might find in any regional theatre across the country. It is a strangely vulnerable and inelegant setup for what is essentially a sinecure gig for a still-craved band.”

“I’ll tell you who is one hard worker: James Dolan… Thank you for this wondrous place”

Ticket prices started at $140 for the residency, which runs until 16 December, with 60% of tickets priced under $300 and more than one million ticket requests received. Celebrities in attendance on the opening night included Paul McCartney, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Jimmy Iovine, Lars Ulrich, Oprah, Matt Damon and Orlando Bloom.

The Sphere boasts the first 16K screen that wraps up, around, and behind the audience, plus Sphere Immersive Sound and 4D technologies. The 580,000 sq ft fully programmable LED screen comprises approximately 1.2 million LED pucks, each containing 48 individual LED diodes that can display 256 million different colours. Further live music headliners are yet to be announced.

The Sphere is the brainchild of Madison Square Garden Entertainment boss James Dolan, whom Rolling Stone reports earned a special shout out from Bono at the show, alongside Irving and Jeffrey Azoff, Arthur Fogel, Michael Rapino, and U2’s former managers Paul McGuinness and Guy Oseary,

“I’ll tell you who is one hard worker: James Dolan,” said the frontman. “Thank you for the Sphere. You’re one mad bastard. Thank you for this wondrous place.”

 


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