U2 Confirms Worst-Kept Secret in Vegas: MSG Sphere Residency

U2, a band popular in the ’80s and ’90s, has confirmed it will have a residency in the new MSG Sphere when the entertainment venue opens at Venetian in late 2023.

The residency will be called “U2: UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere.”

Tickets are expected to cost more than a mid-sized fishing yacht.

Don’t ask. It’s art.

The long-awaited confirmation of the U2 residency was announced via an ad during Super Bowl LVII, an event that insists upon using Roman numerals despite the fact Americans appreciate Roman numerals about as much as we do the metric system and haggis, which might be Scottish, while U2 is Irish, but we went to public school, so same thing.

Here’s the Super Bowl ad in question.

There’s a lot to unpack in that video.

First, it was prescient. The ad aired just days after a Chinese spy balloon grabbed worldwide headlines as it cruised through American airspace, ultimately being shot down off the coast of South Carolina. Topicality, check.

“We were just checking on your weather!”

Second, the ad was really expensive, not just to produce, but to air. The ad featured lots of CGI, and the cost of airing a 30-second commercial on this year’s Super Bowl was about $7 million.

The full version, clocking in at four minutes, can be viewed on the official Web site.

Third, the ad is really creepy. We are not a U2 expert, but what in the hell is going on with the baby saying, “Achtung”? “Achtung” means “attention” in German.” We can only assume the baby is being facetious and making a subtle reference to German reunification. Obviously.

“Achtung Baby,” literally.

Weirdness of the video aside, MSG Sphere and its owner, Madison Square Garden, had to make a splash to open its $2.2 billion venue, and U2 seems to fit the bill.

Questions have been raised about the financial future of MSG Sphere, mainly by us. MSG Sphere is going to cost more than Allegiant Stadium ($1.9 billion), and the stadium actually has a viable model.

That said, it looks like it’s going to be awesome, and U2’s legendary status makes them worthy of christening the Sphere.

At $2.2 billion, it’s possible MSG has lost its marble.

U2’s front man, Bono (62, real name Paul David Hewson), lead guitarist The Edge (61, real name David Howell Evans) and bass guitarist Adam Clayton (62, real name “The One That’s Not Bono or The Edge”) will be among the first to play MSG Sphere, but U2 drummer and founding member Larry Mullen Jr. (recovering from surgery) won’t be with them, at least not when the show launches.

Bram van den Berg will be on the drums. Bram van den Berg is the drummer for hit-making band, Krezip. Just kidding, never heard of them.

The “UV” in the residency name, “U2: UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere,” appears to make reference to a song, “Ultra Violet (Light My Way)” on U2’s 1991 album, “Achtung Baby.”

The album resulted in an impressive five hit singles, but “Ultra Violet” wasn’t one of them. Bold strategy.

The hits from the album were “Mysterious Ways,” “The Fly,” “One,” “Even Better Than the Real Thing” and “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses.”

“Achtung Baby” sold 18 million albums worldwide. Back when people purchased albums.

The official news release says, “This special run of shows marks the band’s first live outing in four years, following the massive success of their acclaimed Joshua Tree 30th anniversary stadium tour which was seen by over 3.2 million fans worldwide and their 2018 Experience + Innocence indoor tour which played to a combined audience of one million across Europe and North America.”

U2 certainly has the chops to turn all eyes toward the 17,500-seat MSG Sphere when the band hits the stage in late 2023.

The audience will be in the casino resort sweet spot, tending to be older and with disposable income to eat, drink and gamble.

MSG Sphere’s technology is almost certainly going to blow the socks off of U2 fans, and while the long-term prospects for the Sphere are in doubt (MSG has considered selling of its stake in Tao Group to help pay for the thing), kicking off the venue with the international appeal of U2 will go a long way in terms of raising awareness and showcasing the potential of the venue to other artists who might be circling a Las Vegas residency.