The minute we heard the iconic rock band U2 would be playing in Las Vegas, we prepared to purchase tickets. The venue was something called ‘Sphere.’ Whatever. We just wanted to see U2. Once tickets were procured, we began researching hotel and restaurant options near Sphere. The more we learned about the venue the more our interest piqued for the event.
According to www.thespherevegas.com, there were at least 24 formulas and mathematical laws used for the design coupled with current engineering and technology practices. In the website’s FAQs it provides further detail: “Sphere is a next-generation entertainment medium that is redefining the future of live entertainment, allowing the foremost artists, creators, and technologists to create extraordinary experiences that take storytelling to a new level and transport audiences to places both real and imagined. The venue is powered by cutting-edge technologies that ignite the senses and enable audiences to share experiences at a never-before-seen scale.” True that.
From the outside, it’s something to behold. The graphics are top notch and changing constantly to reflect the seasons, special occasions, and anything else to surprise Las Vegas Goers. Examples include a giant eyeball, a jack-o-lantern, jellyfish, fireworks, and a basketball. All easily seen even from the land and air.
Once inside, there is futuristic music playing with the atmosphere bathed in blue. It’s cool, but not extraordinary. We walked inside the main arena and took our seats. I remembered the warning we received via email prior to the concert:
This event may include immersive elements such as seat haptics, movement sensations, flashing lights, intense lighting, visual effects, loud noises, and atmospheric simulations. Such elements may aggravate certain medical or physical conditions, and guests should take into consideration these elements, including if they have a history of discomfort or physical symptoms when experiencing them. Visit the Sphere FAQs here and the U2 event page on thespherevegas.com closer to your event date for the latest event information.
We were on the first tiered level, only feet away from the band. There were several tiers, and I imagined the folks on the top would have a better view of Spere, but also be more prone to vertigo. It looked pretty steep up there. In my pictures embedded here you can see the top tier of the sold-out crowd had the optical illusions closest to their purview. One of the first visuals, and my second favorite, was a series of colorful numbers and letters that filled the entire Sphere. They turned into a box and the lid of the box began descending to the point where I felt the urge to duck so it didn’t hit my head. As it was descending, the stage where U2 was performing looked like it was ascending to meet the numbers and letters. At this point the warning email made perfect sense. I felt dizzy and had to hold on to my arm rests to keep my balance.
At one point lead singer Bono whispered very quietly into the microphone, ‘Can you hear me?’ We could. The acoustics were spot on. His voice’s inflections, whether bold or subdued, resonated as if he was standing next to us.
My favorite display was toward the end of the performance. Bono said we were going to ‘open up Sphere.’ Suddenly, we could see outside of the structure as if we were looking out of a window. It showed the casinos, hotels, Ferris wheel, the Strip, and cars driving on the streets. Then, large cranes appeared and began dismantling the hotel/casinos and other structures until they were no longer there. The cranes continued to dismantle structures until all that was left was sand and brush. It felt like we were watching the concert in the middle of a desert. The sun set in the west and the sky turned dark except for the multitude of stars. All the time, U2 was performing. My eyes were vacillating from the band to the scenery, back and forth. The sun rose again in the east. Off in the distance there was movement, as it came closer, rather quickly, it was realized that it was a large body of water, maybe an ocean. It roared right up to the stage then settled so that it appeared the stage was floating on water, making it seem like the audience was also floating on the water. Off in the distance we could see an object. So far away that it was indistinguishable. As it gradually came closer, it was discernable as a very large egg-shaped object. It was taller than the stage and when it reached the stage it cracked open and inside was a kaleidoscope. The audience was visually hurled inside the kaleidoscope being tossed around as if we were a part of it. Vertigo set in again.
That’s all I’ll give away now. As best as I can describe it, as good as video or photos are, there is nothing that can capture the experience more than actually being there. Right now it’s expensive and tickets are hard to come by. But keep trying. You will not be disappointed.
If you go:
Sphere (notice it’s usually not called The Sphere) can be accessed through the Venetian. The Venetian is very expensive at this point. We stayed next door at the Best Western to save quite a bit of money. Best Western is nestled between the Venetian and Harrah’s. Since we only slept in our room, it didn’t matter to us. If you join their rewards club, you get an even better rate.
The Venetian has a U2 immersive merchandise store, called Zoo Station, where you can not only purchase merch, but also have three photo ops that are U2 related. At Sphere, there were long lines for merch. We had no line at the Zoo Station with the same selection.
We had two delicious dinners. The first was Mott 32 in the Venetian. Make reservations as far in advance as possible and preorder the Peking Duck. For more details on the ambiance and cuisine, visit my previous blog post.
The next evening we dined at Gordon Ramsay’s Ramsay’s Kitchen in Harrah’s. We are Gordon Ramsay fans and enjoyed eating some of his signature dishes that we previously only saw on television. We opted for the 5-Course tasting menu. The risotto and beef wellington were excellent, but our favorite was the salmon crudo appetizer.
Inside Sphere, your cell phones are out of service, but unprofessional photos from cell phones are allowed.
There is seating that has limited visibility due to the tiers above them. I suggest you purchase seats in the 3rd or 4th tier up for an optimal experience. Regardless of what tier you end up in, try to get seats that are closest to the stage. The ones that are further away from the stage are visually limited because of the overhead from the tier above them.
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.