U2: Sphere Opening Night Setlist
After months of anticipation last night (September 29), U2 finally kicked off their Las Vegas residency. The show, of course, was much more than just the first night of a major rock band’s string of dates: it was opening night for Vegas’s Sphere, a new kind of venue with mind-blowing visual and audio capabilities.
As CNN reports, Sphere is 366 feet tall and 516 feet wide. “Its bowl-shaped theater reportedly contains the world’s highest-resolution wraparound LED screen. And its exterior is fitted with 1.2 million hockey puck-sized LEDs that can be programmed to flash dynamic imagery on a massive scale.” It’s the perfect venue to feature U2’s 1991 Achtung Baby album and to update the subsequent multi-media intensive “Zoo TV” tour.
One fan made that connection in the comments on U2’s Instagram post, showing the opening moment of the show. “Honestly I didn’t think it was possible for U2 to blow my mind 30 years after seeing ZooTV tour, but they Fn did it. INCREDIBLE SHOW. Run to get tickets. Amazing.”
Achtung Baby‘s Impact
Before Achtung Baby, U2’s concerts were visually pretty simple. Inspired by the Clash and Bruce Springsteen, the focus was very much on the band. Back then, U2 had very little in the way of lights and didn’t use video at all (you can see this in the concert film of their previous tour, Rattle and Hum). Zoo TV was like sensory overload, with multiple video screens all over the stage, showing all kinds of media clips that seemed to have nothing to do with the band. The shows saw a darker and funnier Bono, flipping channels on satellite TV, making prank calls (including to the White House, in a nearly nightly attempt to get President George H.W. Bush on the phone). They even featured a belly dancer during “Mysterious Ways.”
The Vegas show at Sphere appears to emulate the impact of “Zoo TV,” blowing minds three decades after that ground-breaking tour. And like that tour, this show opens with eight songs from Achtung Baby. After that, the band played an acoustic interlude, spotlighting four songs from Rattle And Hum: first, “All I Want Is You,” which they dedicated to injured drummer Larry Mullen Jr. (Dutch drummer Bram van den Berg is filling in for this residency.) They also played “Desire,” which they dedicated to Paul McCartney (who was in the audience), “Angel of Harlem,” and “Love Rescue Me,” which they dedicated to Jimmy Buffett.
It Might Not Be The Same Show Every Night
Variety reports that after the acoustic set, Bono said that each night, they plan to feature a different album during that show segment. He added that they might even play other artists’ songs.
After that, they returned to Achtung Baby, including playing “So Cruel.” According to Setlist.fm, they have not played that song since 1992 (and only played it three times that year). They finished the show with a six-song encore, including their
This description of the show surely doesn’t do justice to the stunning visuals provided by Sphere, but the venue has posted some short videos to their Instagram. And there are lots of unauthorized clips already on YouTube and social media.
Here’s the full setlist, according to Setlist.fm.
Achtung Baby: First set
1. “Zoo Station”
2. “The Fly”
3. “Even Better Than the Real Thing”
4. “Mysterious Ways”
5. “One” with bits of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender”
6. “Until the End of the World”
7. “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”
8. “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World”
Rattle and Hum segment
9. “All I Want Is You”
10. “Desire” with a bit of the Beatles’ “Love Me Do”
11. “Angel of Harlem” with bits of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Moonlight”
12. “Love Rescue Me”
Achtung Baby: Second set
13. “So Cruel”
15. “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”
16. “Love Is Blindness”
17. “Elevation” with a bit of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”
18. “Atomic City”
20. “Where the Streets Have No Name”
21. “With or Without You”
22. “Beautiful Day” with bits of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Blackbird”
See U2’s schedule and ticket information at their official website.