Bono: ‘There are no speakers. The entire building is a speaker’ U2 preview Sphere
Bono and The Edge take Apple Music’s Zane Lowe on an exclusive sneak preview tour of Sphere — the innovative Las Vegas performance venue the band will christen in September. The group shares why there’s nothing like Sphere in the world, how the venue will bring completely immersive sound to the live concert experience, and what the shows mean for the band’s touring future. Plus, Bono reflects on the invention of stadium rock by the Beatles, and muses about what the future of live music in general might look like. U2 also reflects on some of the experiences that led up to this point, including iconic music video shoots and being embraced by Frank Sinatra early in their career.
U2 Tell Apple Music There’s Nothing Like Sphere In The World…
Bono: It’s not a line we just throw out, but the idea behind U2 is always to make the worst seat of the house, the best of the house. This changes the whole dynamic on that. Most music, over playing a theater, most music venues are sports venues. They’re stadiums, they’re arenas. They’re built for sports. They’re not built for music, they’re not built for art. So this building was built for immersive experiences in cinema and performance. It was not built for, you can’t come here and see an ice hockey game.
The Edge: So, the sound has been designed as a priority from the beginning. Best sound, I’m sure we’ll ever hear. Really excited about it.
Bono: …there are no speakers. The entire building is a speaker. So wherever you are, you have perfect sound is the plan.
The Edge: There’s nothing else like it in the world and won’t be for many, many years.
U2 Tell Apple Music About How Sphere Will Bring Completely Immersive Sound To The Live Concert Experience…
The Edge: So what this has been designed to achieve is completely immersive sound. So you’ve got the main array of speakers is above our heads, but throughout the entire building are speakers that are focused so that you have the capability of placing the audience inside a whole 360 degree sonic spectrum. So in the way that Atmos, I don’t know if you’ve been listening to Atmos mixes now? Big big breakthrough in audio in terms of the dimension. Well, this can do that kind of Atmos mixing in a live context, which has never ever been possible before. So not only is the visual side of it groundbreaking, but the audio side of it is again, cutting edge.
U2 Tell Apple Music What The Group’s Sphere Shows Mean For Band’s Touring Future…
Bono: We have to see if our audience love this. I think it’s going to be hard to get us out of here.
Zane Lowe: What does that mean for touring now? Bono: We’re not touring Achtung Baby anyway. So, with The Joshua Tree, we took that album around the world. This will only be here.
The Edge: Yes. But touring itself is not over. Don’t forget it’s 18,000 to 20,000 people a night, so it’s not like you’re not going to be doing a hundred shows.
U2 Tell Apple Music How Sphere Will Allow The Band To Achieve a Level of Intimacy They Never Could Before…
Bono: we can achieve intimacy at a level that we could never, whilst playing to 10,000 or 18,000 people. We work very hard to achieve that intimacy in arenas. We get there, we work very hard to achieve that in a stadium, we get there, or a festival. But here, the building’s made to work for the audience, it’s made to work for us.
The Edge: I think the truth is that depending on where you are in the venue, you’ll get your own very unique show.
U2 Tell Apple Music Their Upcoming Sphere Shows Are The Next Step in the Evolution of Stadium Rock…
Normally when I walk into a venue, I can feel that sort of an anxiety, but I haven’t had it here. I’m just very excited. Think of when the Beatles came to the US. So they had a tiny little system, they played in Shea Stadium in New York. Nobody could hear them. It’s just the sound of the crowd. And they invented stadium rock, if you like. And then it took every decade, every generation, we became more able to perform and that people could hear our music and see the band. This is the next, I suppose level, the next evolution in that. It started with the Beatles in Shea Stadium.
U2 Tell Apple Music Their Favorite Vegas Moment Was Being Hosted by Frank Sinatra At One of His Shows During The 80s As The Band Was Just Beginning To Take Off…
Bono: So the Las Vegas moment is, it’s a bit Hollywood too, but so we got into to Sinatra and people were paying a thousand dollars a table or whatever, maybe more. We were in there free. We were kind of dressed as U2, whatever that was in the eighties. So Sinatra walks to the front of the stage and he’s just there. And if you’re a singer, Sinatra’s on a different level. And he goes, “Yeah, who else is here?” There’s like Elizabeth Taylor’s there, such and such over here. I mean, it’s just stars everywhere. And he does the thing of, “Well, tonight we have, they’re number one in the United States. They’re on the cover of Time Magazine, these people. They’re from Ireland. They’re called U2 and they’re here.” And so the spotlight comes on us. And so I guess we’ve seen it in the movies. So we all stand up and we wave because that’s what you’re supposed to do in that situation. And Frank just pulls away and goes, “You did not spend a dime on your clothes.” Most people didn’t know why we would be interested. It’s not exactly indie. Right. It was a rock and roll band wanting to hang out with a crooner. He was the chairman of the board, and we knew, something in us knew,…that’s something we need to understand.