EDGE: So, are we doing this
BONO: Ach, we would be mad not to
U2 doing a residency in Las Vegas. What? Does that mean they have finally become old and in age and art? Or is it a rite of passage giving them legendary status among the greats like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra? Good surmises?
My first thoughts, when I heard the news, was that they would get slated for being outdated. It would be seen as a sell out. Money had finally won over art.
I don’t think so. The Vegas stigma is misleading. I bought a box set at Christmas - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Live at The Fillmore. At the beginning of 1997 The Heartbreakers did a 20 date residency at the Fillmore. The album consisted of all the best bits and they are so good! If U2 had chosen the Fillmore would there be the same slur.
Live music in Las Vegas might also have had an underserved bad name. It maybe has that Cadillac Ranch feel. Old relics of cars in the desert. Beautiful but outdated! Yet, Lady Gaga, Adele and Usher are all at it.
It makes sense. Instead of carting 100 articulated trucks across America and setting up a massive stage in every city, why not have the crowd come to you. One venue. Always there. It is eco friendly as well as much easier on the 60 year old U2 band members. No travel.
However, beyond that in U2’s case is their desire not to be old and out dated but to be ahead of the creative curve. It seems that in Las Vegas exists a thing called the MSG Sphere. It sounds like a futuristic venue that can give an immersive visual experience as well as the best sound imaginable.
Now, that has U2 written all over it. Since Achtung Baby was released in 1991 and went on a stage called first ZooTV and later Zooropa U2’s visual innovator Willie Williams has been attempting all kinds of visual and audio inventions. Here’s something brand new to play with. Nobody better.
It’s why in that Super Bowl advertisement Bono states; “we would mad not to.” For U2 this is a possibility that is too tempting.
Doing it without Larry Mullen Jr is another surmise. Larry is having surgery on 50 years of drumming wear and tear. My take is that this idea has been bubbling under for so long that Larry’s surgery is just badly timed. He is not retiring but getting himself well enough to play again. It is unfortunate but this band has been on the whole very fortunate. It will seem strange but strange it will have to be.
So, American fans can fly down and see and hear this imaginative celebration of Achtung Baby. It’s a long way from Belfast, so I am glad that that Super Bowl advertisement started in Carrickfergus with Seamus Doherty. How good it would be if the next venture was replicating the MSG Sphere in Dublin. Much closer. Much more cred. Vegas will be very expensive.