The reviews are in.
'The sheer obliterating pleasure of sensory overload'.
Those are a few of the ways the U2:UV show at Sphere in Las Vegas have been described by music critics, journalists, and fans who were in the room for Friday's opening night.
"People are going to be talking about this show — forever," the Emmy Award-winning KTLA morning anchor Sam Rubin told his tens of thousands of followers in a post on X (formerly Twitter) last night. "I would try to explain it if I could."
Many reviewers dove into the panoply of sound, vision, and ideas U2 offered to the capacity audience over the course of more two hours inside the world's most technologically advanced performance venue.
"As advertised, it was a quantum leap forward for concerts," wrote Rolling Stone's Andy Greene, who also deemed opening night "by any measurement, a stunning success," adding, "whatever happens going forward, it's hard to imagine a better proof of concept for Sphere than this U2 show." While Los Angeles Times pop music critic Mikael Wood said: "More than any defined narrative, what U2 is offering is the sheer obliterating pleasure of sensory overload: a barrage of eye-popping sights and sharply rendered sounds that finds a kind of ecstasy in submission."
Some zeroed in on the paradox at play between the highest of high-tech production wizardry and a four-piece band that for more than 40 years regularly opens a collective vein on stage, pouring their life-blood out and baring their souls for their fans, whether it happens in a gargantuan orb surrounded by 1.2 million LED screens with mind-bending visuals or standing on a simple stage with a guitar, three chords, and the truth.
"This cocktail of eye-popping visuals and slightly unruly performances absolutely works, allaying any concerns that a band from the post-punk era and the old showbiz connotations of a residency in Las Vegas constitute a slightly uncomfortable fit, regardless of how many millions of records the band has sold, or how mainstream an audience they've attracted in the interim," is how Alexis Petridis of The Guardian put it. "Indeed, it works so well … you leave feeling confident this is an idea others are going to copy…Whether they'll be as dazzling, or indeed as charming as this, time will show."
Still others focused on how the band bring intimacy to spectacle and injected a thrumming heartbeat of humanity into technological whizz-bangs.
"When I think back on highlights of 'U2:UV,' I'll think of the band thundering its way through "Acrobat," one of the least-played or least-celebrated Achtung Baby songs, with nary a special effect in sight," said Variety's Chris Williman. "We haven't talked much about the music yet, which is an inevitable byproduct of what Sphere brings to the table as this show's real raison d'etre. But an Achtung Baby-based show was overdue, for those of us who consider it the band's very greatest album…The biggest joy of this residency is — well, fine, the spectacle of the thing, but the second-biggest joy is getting to hear some of those deeper Baby tracks, to which attention must also be made."
More feedback (pardon the pun) and coverage for U2:UV opening night
Billboard: "U2 was exactly the right band to welcome the mind-blowing space"
USA Today: "U2 brings swagger, iconic songs to Sphere Las Vegas in jaw-dropping opening night concert"
The Hollywood Reporter: "Dazzling."
Associated Press: "Throughout the night, there were a plethora of attractive visuals … taking the more than 18,000 attendees on U2's epic musical journey."
HITS Daily Double: "For all the ballyhoo, U2's music was the most galvanizing effect of all."
Las Vegas Review-Journal: ""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" … and left fans leaving the Sphere shaking their heads at what they'd seen."
UPROXX: "Nearly 40 years into their career, U2 continues to make history."
CBS Saturday Morning: Bono and the Edge took Anthony mason behind the scenes this week for an exclusive first look at their show, which merges art, music, and technology like never before."
UPDATE: GLOBAL COVERAGE
International media and music critics are also reflecting the warm reception the show has received from the crowds in Nevada.
Here's a selection of coverage in opening week:
IRELAND & UK
'U2 hit the jackpot with a Las Vegas gamble' ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️— The Daily Mail
'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but my night with U2 will stay with me forever' — The Irish Times
'Willie Williams: Meet the Sheffield man whose U2 stage show is taking Las Vegas by storm' — ITV NEWS
'The Edge dons NI designer's jacket as band launch breathtaking Sphere' — The Belfast Telegraph
'Monumental visual and sound spectacle' — EXTRA.ie
'Inside the tech behind the greatest show currently on earth' — London Evening Standard
'The band U2 are the opening act at a new event venue in Las Vegas, Sphere, and it sounded like the introduction to a new world…An unprecedented experience' — O Globo
'Unprecedented immersion' — Gizmondo Japan
'Groundbreaking' — Amass
'Fans are amazed by the immersive feeling' — Yahoo Japan
'U2 inaugurate the "Sphere" of Las Vegas' — RAI News (TV)
'In Las Vegas, U2's giga-show pushes the limits of live performance' — TÉLÉRAMA
'”It was absolutely crazy”: U2 fans blown away by incredible Las Vegas Sphere' — Le Parisien
'The show has entered an unknown dimension' — Sud Ouest
'Inauguration of the futuristic Sphere in Las Vegas, with a shocking concert by U2' — La Vanguardia
'U2 rejuvenates in the era of screens' — El Pais
'Dazzles with its futuristic and lavish landing in Las Vegas' — ABC Spain
'Revolutionizing live shows' — GQ Spain
'Spectacular premiere' — El Heraldo