Perfectly timed to Friday’s harvest moon, which lit up the dusty Las Vegas skyline, Sphere – Madison Square Garden’s epic $2.3 billion immersive live entertainment venue and the world’s largest spherical structure – opened its doors for the first time. In addition to the packed house of 20,000 visitors, a parade of music-loving celebrities made their way to the technological marvel for the main event, the debut of U2: UV Achtung Baby Live in Sphere. A-listers also gazed at the visionary performance of Jim Dolan, CEO of MSG and executive chairman and CEO of Sphere Entertainment.
Aaron Paul, Andre Agassi, Bryan Cranston, Connie Britton, Dakota Fanning, Darren Aronofsky, Diplo, Elizabeth Banks, Jon Hamm, Josh Duhamel, Jane Seymour, Luke Wilson, Maria Sharapova, Mario Lopez, Oscar De La Hoya, Skylar Astin and Steffi Grave appeared on the carpet. Inside, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom watched the show along with Lauren Sanchez and Jeff Bezos. From the podium, Bono checked the names of Paul McCartney, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Snoop Dogg – all of whom were in attendance, as were Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Ava DuVernay and LeBron James. During his acceptance speech, Bono recognized heavyweights Irving and Jeffrey Azoff, Live Nation’s Michael Rapino and Arthur Fogel, managers Paul McGuinness and Guy Oseary, set designer Willie Williams, creative director Gavin Friday and many more from U2’s past and present team. .
On the red carpet, Dolan said The Hollywood Reporter“I got it done and it turned out pretty much how I wanted it. I really feel good about it,” he explains why he believes U2 is the ideal artist to open The Sphere. “They understood it from day one. They believed in what we were doing. Once they saw it, they said, “We’re going to be the first.”
While he doesn’t want to share any spoilers about who’s next — rumors range from Phish to Harry Styles to Billy Joel — Dolan believes Sphere has the power to attract anyone. “Every artist wants to play here. I think every artist will be challenged by this location. It is a new medium. It’s not just the sound; it’s the images. It’s the experience. They’re setting a bar here, so let’s see what happens next,” he said.
Aronofsky, who directed the first Sphere Experience Postcard of the Earth, which debuted on October 6, said he was introduced to the project by Jane Rosenthal of Tribeca Enterprises. “She said ‘something strange is going on.’ … At that point it was a card game. It just had a lot of pictures and a big dream.
Postcardshot in groundbreaking 18K, will be shown in the Sphere’s 160,000-square-foot immersive display plane and will showcase the “magnificent beauty of life on Earth.”
“I saw that 18K footage and photographing wildlife would be something very exciting and different,” Aronofsky continued. “Everything was different: the cameras for data storage operations had to be reinvented. The final film is half a petabyte in size.”
The director also had the opportunity to speak with U2 ahead of their debut. “I’ve had a few conversations with my heroes. Various noise problems were discussed. They got to hear the sound system before I did and because they have the ears they have, they helped me with my composer,” he said.
Like most of the celebrities in attendance, Hamm was in awe of the location: “I’ve only been on the outside of the world in terms of the globe, so it’s exciting for me to be in there. Elizabeth Banks noted that she had been scrolling photos of it on Instagram for months, saying, “I’m obsessed. I can’t imagine what’s in there. It almost feels like a gigantic work of art like the Bellagio Fountains. I think you can see it from space.”
Luke Wilson first saw U2 perform during the 1980s Joshua Tree tour and teased, “Tonight may be a little different than when I saw the band in 1987 at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas.” His wish list for future Sphere concerts includes ‘Willie Nelson, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones’.
Paul and Cranston, who prominently display their Dos Hombres mezcal in Sphere’s bars, first toured the venue several months ago. “The mind was blown,” Paul recalled. “They turned on the screen for a moment to let us experience what it was like – and it took us on a journey. I can’t wait to see what it’s like when U2 orchestrates it all. U2 is one of the greatest rock bands ever and this is perhaps the largest music venue in the world.” Cranston added: “With Bono it will be something that is curated, not just random.”
Adam Scott applauded the new look it brings to the Las Vegas skyline: “It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, that’s for sure.”
Vegas residents Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf explained that they have seen the structure emerge over the past four years. “We have seen it grow. When we flew in, we anticipated, ‘What’s it going to look like?’” she said. “It’s not easy to add to this city in a way that stands out,” Agassi noted.
David Dibble, CEO of Sphere Ventures, said the location started as a sketch drawing he and Dolan came up with in the middle of the night. “Two wild-eyed guys in New York said, ‘Let’s do this.’ We have no idea here. We’re going to do it. And here we are,” he explained.
“U2 is so looking forward to it. They’re thinking of ways to exploit the media, like, ‘Wait a minute. That’s a great idea,” he continued. “Jim always said, ‘We need to make a palette, an artist’s palette, and then let the artists come in and decide what to do.’ U2 does that on a large scale.”
As the red carpet descended, guests made their way inside, where they interacted with five Aura humanoid ‘spokesbots’ to navigate their way through the massive galactic-lit structure. Attendees were notified to be in their seats at 8:20 p.m. – the show started at 8:37 p.m. – as a car-driven DJ booth circulated through the crowd. What followed next was exactly two hours of mind-numbing visuals, clean singing and a jaw-dropping experience of the theatrical presentation designed by Stufish, Es Devlin and Willie Williams, based on Brian Eno’s turntable. U2:UV characterized the whole Achtung Baby album and other key songs played by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bram van den Berg, replacing U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr.
The U2:UV echo effect rippled into the adjacent Venetian Resort, home to the free immersive fan portal “Zoo Station: A U2:UV Experience.” Created by Live Nation’s Vibee, which sells travel packages around the 25-concert series, Zoo Station lets fans discover the world Achtung Baby through interactive experiences; ‘Zoo TV Cinema’ curated by The Edge; a gallery of Anton Corbijn images of the band; a pop-up shop with exclusive merchandise and VIP lounges and happy hours with U2-themed drinks.