U2 adds 8 more dates to Sphere gig in Las Vegas amid venue's ballooning costs
U2 will be spending a lot more time in Las Vegas after adding eight more shows to its already-expanded residency, "U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere."
The original five shows planned over two weekends became 17 shows over several more weekends. The new additions bring the upcoming show total to 25. The Irish rock band's plans now include concerts on Dec. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16. The residency begins with shows Sept. 29 and 30.
The eight dates were added "to meet the unprecedented demand," the Sphere Entertainment Co. — a new, publicly traded spinoff of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. — and promoter Live Nation said Friday. In a joint release, the companies said they had received more than 1 million ticket requests to date.
The Grammy-winning band's residency will launch the Strip’s latest architectural feat — the Sphere at the Venetian Resort. The shows will mark the blockbuster group's first live outing in four years and one of the few times U2 has performed without one of its original members. Bono, the Edge and Adam Clayton will be joined by drummer Bram van den Berg, who will be sitting at the kit instead of founding member Larry Mullen Jr., due to his recent health issues and following his allegations that the band had become a “benevolent dictatorship.”
On Friday, the New York Post reported that the new shows come amid an expanding financial hole for the cutting-edge, orb-shaped venue, which has ballooned in cost to $2.3 billion from an estimated $2.18 billion, according to a Wednesday earnings report with billionaire James Dolan, chief executive of Madison Square Garden Sports and Madison Square Garden Entertainment and the owner of the New York Knicks. Dolan has reportedly quietly agreed to pay U2 $10 million to produce the tech-forward show, and construction at the venue, which is scheduled to open in September, is still incomplete.
Although the band promised tickets beginning at $140 all-in, resale practices have led prospective customers to complain of skyrocketing prices, with some tickets reaching six times face value even in a 17,500-seat concert venue.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal also reported that cellphones will be allowed in the groundbreaking venue and will not need to be placed in Yondr pouches ahead of showtime — a pre-show practice adopted by other Vegas headliners, including Garth Brooks. The Review-Journal also anticipates that "As It Was" singer Harry Styles could sign on for an extended engagement at the venue in 2024.
However, the only set dates at the Sphere so far belong to U2 and the venue's upcoming theatrical show, "Postcard From Earth." The Post said Dolan has been eyeing deals with Phish and has reached out to Coldplay to perform.
U2's ambitious new concerts will focus on the band's critically acclaimed 1991 LP, “Achtung Baby,” which was nominated for an album of the year Grammy in 1993 and won the prize for rock performance by a duo or group with vocal that same year. The album is credited with reviving the Irish band’s early-career slump and was the subject of Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim's 2011 documentary, “From the Sky Down.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.