The Sphere at the Venetian Resort: Las Vegas’ New Spherical Theater and U2’s Epic Opening Concert

The Sphere at the Venetian Resort: Las Vegas’ New Spherical Theater and U2’s Epic Opening Concert

The ‘Sphere at the Venetian Resort’, the new theater in Las Vegas opened last week by U2.Image Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Every description of the Sphere at the Venetian Resort, the official name of the new impressive spherical theater in Las Vegas, comes with a set of bold numbers. Take the incredible 54,000 square meters of LED screens on the outside. These can transform the entire building into, for example, a giant looking eye, as was demonstrated last month. There is also a similar screen on the inside, with a height of 112 meters and a width of 157 meters, where more than 18,000 people can sit.

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Mark Moorman writes for de Volkskrant about series, photography and popular culture.

Another not insignificant figure: the more than 2 billion euros that the building cost, after initial estimates that amounted to half that amount. The project was delayed due to the corona crisis and subsequent logistics and delivery problems. There are plans to build multiple Spheres worldwide, starting in London. The plan has already met with objections from residents, who dread a Las Vegas-like light beacon in their backyard.

Visual violence

This weekend the Sphere was opened by Irish band U2, who performed their first live show since 2019. The performance was the first of 25 performances in the U2: UV Achtung Baby Live series, in which the band plays their classic 1991 album. The five star performance (volgens The Guardian) was also the debut of Dutch substitute drummer Bram van den Berg (Krezip), replacement for Larry Mullen Jr., who had to undergo a medical procedure.

U2’s opening concert. In the coming period, the Irish band will give 25 performances in the series ‘U2: UV Achtung Baby Live’.Image Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for Live Nation

U2 has never been a band that valued modesty, but in the Sphere the superlative was quickly achieved. The many YouTube videos that surfaced after the performance show how the band occasionally almost seems to perish in the visual violence with which they are surrounded by the immense dome screen. Designer Es Devlin had created the image, using the beautiful work of the Irish video artist John Gerrard.

Frank Sinatra an Elvis Presley

The designers of the Sphere must also have breathed a sigh of relief when Rolling Stone Magazine did not find the sound from the more than 160,000 speakers (another number) to be disappointing. The organization of the Sphere in Las Vegas expects that at least four or five so-called residencies will take place per year. These are large concert series, so artists do not have to tour, but the audience combines the concert visit with a visit to the gambling city.

Not far from the Sphere, British singer Adele has been performing in The Colosseum, the theater of Caesars Palace casino, since November 2022 with her successful show Weekends with Adele. This tradition dates back to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley in the 1960s and 1970s.

The spherical Sphere, in the middle of Las Vegas.Image Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

This week also sees the premiere of the first film made especially for the Sphere: Postcard From Earth by Darren Aronofsky, director of Black Swan and The Whale, among others. The film is described by the makers as ‘part science fiction story, part nature documentary’, from ‘deep in the oceans to deep in space’.

Aronofsky’s Instagram account showed the first images of a test screening, where an elephant tens of meters high strolls through the savannah. Previously, the director said: ‘I see the Sphere as a wonderful opportunity to pluck people away from the glitz of the crazy Vegas Strip and immerse them in the wonder and beauty of the natural world.’

This immersion in nature in the middle of Las Vegas costs between $50 and $200, depending on the time of day.

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2023-10-03 13:24:44
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