Bono has secured his place in rock history, even as he continues to blaze a trail in artistic presentation. The U2 front man summoned Elvis, called out to a Beatle and christened a spectacularly innovative venue, all on a Friday night in Las Vegas.
In launching the Sphere for a crowd peppered with famous folk, the 63-year-old superstar announced, “Elvis has definitely not left this building.” He might as well have been referring to himself.
But if the King was there in spirit, Paul McCartney was there, in fact. Performing for “Macca,” as Bono called the knighted Beatle, was like performing for Mozart.
“We’ve stolen a lot of your songs,” Bono cheerily confessed, seeming to look at the upper section in the middle of globe-shaped music hall. McCartney was there, out of sight but making his presence felt alongside rocker Jon Bon Jovi and powerhouse entertainment manager Irving Azoff.
Around The Sphere, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Neil Patrick Harris, Andre Agassi with Steffi Graf, Josh Duhamel, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Jon Hamm, Mario Lopez, Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Banks, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Snoop Dogg, Oscar De La Hoya, Luke Wilson, Skylar Astin, Tom Schanley, Adam Scott and Diplo were in the mix.
Who else … ah, Flavor Flav, as we ran into him in the men’s room. For real.
It was a starry night (except when it seemed to turn to daylight) inside a venue that can evoke any climate, emotion and tableau. “U2 UV: Achtung Baby” was, at times, entirely breathtaking, completely “experiential” (to use venue visionary Jim Dolan’s favorite term) and left fans leaving the Sphere shaking their heads at what they’d seen.
A fully loaded video display of iconic Vegas images accompanied “Even Better Than The Real Thing.” The video covered the entire, rounded LED display. It seemed the whole history of Vegas entertainment splashed across that display — showgirls, the Rat Pack, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, Elvis, Nic Cage as Elvis, Austin Butler as Elvis, an elephant on stage from (it seemed) a Siegfried & Roy show, a pair of burgundy dice, several Strip and and downtown hotel-casinos signs.
Visual highlights abounded. During “With Or Without You,” a Sphere floated along a lake that had overtaken the Vegas desert landscape, then opened with a flourish of “all God’s creatures,” as Bono remarked, enveloping the audience.
The globe turned bright blue during “Love Is Blindness,” showing sunlight and more wildlife during “A Beautiful Day,” which was interspersed with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise),” to turn on Sir Paul.
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