The Student News Site of Wylie E. Groves High School

The Groves Scriptor

The Groves Scriptor

The Groves Scriptor

A peek inside the Sphere: A U2 concert review

Mia Boland
A photo of the outside of the Sphere, lit up purple, the morning of the concert.

Starting on September 29, 2023 the Irish rock band U2 performed a series of shows every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Totaling in over 40 shows (originally intended to be a lesser amount, but 11 extra shows were added due to the demand by eager fans), their tour lasted until March 4, 2024. This tour, called ‘U2 : UV’, featured U2’s 1991 album, Achtung Baby

Each show was performed in the Sphere, a new and high-tech venue owned by the Venetian Resort in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. The construction of the Sphere commenced in 2019 and officially opened in 2023. When the idea for the Sphere was proposed back in 2018, it was estimated that the project would cost $1.2 billion, but because of inflation during the pandemic, it ended up costing a whopping $2.3 billion to get the Sphere up and running. 

The Sphere is a large indoor concert venue completely covered inside and out with over 16,000 LED panels that can project virtually anything and create concert experiences that are truly first of its kind. The Sphere also has a total of 167,000 speaker drivers which makes sound quality inside nearly perfect. When driving through Vegas, the Sphere has now become a vital part of the iconic city skyline, and you can always see it lighting up the night with a different, colorful design.

U2 has been the first band to perform concerts there since the Sphere’s official opening in 2023, and let’s just say that any band with intentions to perform there next has a lot to live up to. Though the band became popular back in the 1980s, U2 still has not failed to be a consistently entertaining and groundbreaking band that brings amazing musical elements to the table and keeps fans wanting more.  

Over midwinter break, my family and I as well as one of my close friends took a trip to Vegas to see one of these incredible U2 concerts. Before the show, I didn’t really know what to expect because I had never heard of the Sphere, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of U2, unlike my dad who has been a die-hard fan since U2 debuted as a band. 

On the Saturday morning of the concert, my dad dragged us all out of bed at six o’clock  to go get our wristbands for later that night. Since we had floor seat tickets, we had to wait in a line with other concert attendees, some loyal fans and some just there to experience the technological wonders of the Sphere. We got our wristbands; we were numbers 200-204 in the order of people to enter the venue at the time of the concert. At five in the evening, we arrived back at the Sphere and commenced in another waiting process before the concert started at eight. My family and I were even able to make friends with some of the people standing in line, and learn about the distances some traveled just to see this show. 

The initial atmosphere upon entering the Sphere was dark, but buzzing with energy and conversation from all of the concert goers. The screened interior of the Sphere displayed concrete walls that looked completely real. At the very top of the sphere, a projected bird flew circles above us. We had a clear view, being only about four or five rows away from the stage. Beverage service was an advantage that made the waiting more bearable. 30 minutes before the show began, a British DJ and multi-instrumentalist, Pauli “the PSM” Lovejoy, played hit songs from all generations for the crowd to dance and sing to. This kept the energy going, and I enjoyed having this music playing to pass the time. Lovejoy stood on a cart that moved around the general admission area as he mixed the music. He ‘drove’ through the crowd, interacting with many people as he went. This was a great choice as an opener, as he played songs that most everyone knew and could enjoy while they waited.  

Finally, a bit after eight o’ clock, the murmurs of the audience turned into loud applause and cheering as U2 walked out onto the stage. People were in a frenzy, screaming out in excitement. During the first song, Zoo Station, which is the album opener for Achtung Baby, the Sphere displayed the ‘concrete walls’ cracking and opening up. Light penetrated through the cracks and the screens projected colorful visuals that mirrored what the lead singer Bono and the other band members were doing in real time on the stage. Bono stood on a small podium while he sang, which made him slowly spin in a circle. All of these aspects pieced together made for a truly eye opening experience. We were one song in and I knew this night would be one I would never forget. 

Throughout the concert, U2 introduced aspects that would shock us, even when we thought we had seen it all. During one song, a woman in the front row held up a banner that read ‘Birthday Girl’. Bono walked to the edge of the stage, crouched down, and held her hand as he sang. At that moment, it seemed that Bono was within arms reach. Not even being a big fan, I felt drawn to Bono and emotional for my dad that he was able to experience this night. 

Bono has always been a quite politically active musician, who always is known to stand up for what he believes in. At one point, we took a break between songs while Bono paid a tribute to Alexei Navalny, a Russian anti-corruption activist who was against the ways of Putin’s governing. On February 16, 2024, Navalny’s life was taken in prison. Bono had the crowd chant his name, as a way to bring justice to him. I think this was an extremely powerful choice, and it was surreal hearing the voices of thousands saying his name in unison. Bono uses his fame to bring awareness about real world injustices that people may not have known about before.

During the song Until the End of the World, the screens showed videos of the globe spinning, former president John F. Kennedy delivering a speech, and footage from Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s wedding ceremony. Combined with Bono’s powerful lyrics about love, this entire display made me teary eyed. Each and every song created a whole new atmosphere, each just as engaging as the last. Whether it was words quickly flashing, or bugs falling from the sky, I was always in awe. The Sphere even had special wind effects for when outdoor scenery was projected. At one point, the images on screen were moving in a way that made the crowd feel like we were moving up as well. The feeling was so unique to me, I almost felt dizzy seeing my surroundings change and move. 

Since the Sphere is in Vegas, U2 made a tribute to ‘the king’, Elvis Presley. A majority of Elvis’s career and fame occurred during the time he was taking residency in Las Vegas. To pay a tribute to this icon, U2 would project pictures of him on the screens from time to time, and Bono even sang one of his songs. This was extremely important to me because my friend who was with me is a huge fan of Elvis.

Finally, all the songs from Achtung Baby had concluded and it came time for U2 to play all of their greatest hits. At this point my family and I had been pushed even closer to the stage, and we were now in the second row. Anticipation filled the crowd, and a fan behind us even began to cry. U2 played their song Atomic City, as a video of the Vegas skyline played behind them. It was so realistic, I thought the Sphere had somehow become transparent and I was really looking out at the city. The video showed Vegas slowly being constructed, and as the song died down, showed Vegas being torn down with it. To conclude this incredible show, U2 played the hit song, Where the Streets Have No Name. I was happy to be hearing a song I recognized from my dad playing it for me in the past, because I was able to sing along. The visuals during this song were absolutely astonishing. We saw a vast desert below a beautiful sky during a sunset. The scenery was so beautiful, that for a moment I forgot I was in a crowded concert venue, and I thought I really was in this beautiful desert. I was so overcome with emotion, I can’t even begin to imagine how my dad felt, seeing that he has been a fan of U2 since he was a highschool student like me. 

The Sphere lit up with a gorgeous desert scene during the song “Where the Streets Have No Name”. (Phyllis Boland)

When Where the Streets Have No Name finished and the band slowly filed off stage after saying their heartfelt goodbyes, and we thought we had truly seen it all, U2 came back for an encore to play their most popular song, Beautiful Day. I enjoyed singing my heart out one last time for the night with my parents and my friend. Bono said some concluding remarks, expressing his love and appreciation for us fans before officially ending the concert.

Walking back to our car after the show was surreal. I couldn’t believe how incredible the concert was. I’m so grateful my dad was able to bring me and my friend, and that night will definitely go down in history as one of my favorite concerts ever.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Groves Scriptor

Your donation will support the student journalists of Wylie E. Groves High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Mia Boland
Mia Boland, Reporter
Mia Boland is a second-year editor for the Groves Scriptor. She has loved writing since elementary school, and participated in a summer writing camp for many years. Mia is very interested in news/feature writing, whether that be social issues outside of school or things going on in school. When not in the classroom, Mia enjoys running, listening to music, and traveling.
Donate to The Groves Scriptor

Comments (0)

All The Groves Scriptor Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *