U2 are reported to be playing a multi-date residency in Las Vegas next year. Nobody should be too surprised if the story is true, writes Alan Corr

Back in the grim old eighties when unemployment was rife, Thatcher was not for turning and the Berlin Wall still stood impassive and impenetrable, U2 could always be relied on to reflect the grim tenor of the times.

As solemn as Newgrange and as epic - and sometimes windy - as Monument Valley, they were always a band who wanted to throw their arms around the world, their very universality (not to mention a talent for stirring post-punk polemics) was a huge part of their global success.

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U2 on the streets of Vegas in 1987

It would be a few years before U2 rumbled that, yes, pop and rock music was meant to be fun as well as heavy with import and artistry.

As the eighties turned to the 1990s, Bono announced from the stage at Dublin's Point Depot on New Year's Eve, 1989 that it was time to "dream it all up again" and "chop down the Joshua Tree".

As the new decade dawned, they dedicated most of the '90s to actually doing something they seemed singularly wary of before - embracing the sheer absurdity of their lofty position as well as the responsibility it had granted them.

This moment of surrender (that's enough U2 puns - Ed) was best captured in Bill Flanagan's highly entertaining book U2 at The End of The World in which the inter-band warfare as they struggled to trade gravitas for glee in Berlin's Hansa Studios was described as "the hats versus the haircuts".

Well over a decade later, the band would also nail the madness of it all in one of their best songs, Vertigo, a guitar anthem that seemed to be bug-eyed in amazement at their sheer achievement.

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So, news that the band are reported to be playing a residency in Las Vegas should not surprise too many people.

Has not Bono always had an Elvis/Sinatra fixation (hell, who hasn't?) and the idea that a marathon run of shows might compromise the band's credibility and artistry seems off target given that U2 have long embraced the brilliant crassness of pop.

Bono may have joined the stellar line-up on Steven Van Zandt and record producer Arthur Baker's righteous anti-Apartheid protest song Sun City in 1985 but Sin City is a good fit for U2.

Numerous reports in US and Irish media say that U2 are set to open the newly built 17,500 to 20,000 capacity MSG Sphere in Vegas and perform throughout 2023 at the $1.8 billion venue.

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Music trade magazine Billboard reported that Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam will be the premiere act when the Sphere, hyped as the world's largest spherical structure, opens at the Venetian resort next year.

Billboard also reports that the residency's dates have not yet been announced, but "the shows will reportedly be non-consecutive and spread over the course of 2023".

However, nothing has been confirmed and a spokesperson for the band told RTÉ that U2 are unlikely to be releasing a statement regarding stories of a Vegas run and so it is speculation for the moment.

It's also worth noting that the website U2.songs.com have speculated that U2 "may be planning on doing several shows there, but they also may be leaving the door open to do other performances in North America.

"They could also be in the early planning stages of the tour and are keeping options open to use the venue at several points, which may be whittled down later."

Bruce Springsteen chose the slightly more refined surrounds of Broadway for his solo residency, playing his mammoth back catalogue and spinning yarns in his oak-aged voice. However, if they do decide to strut their peacock stuff on a Vegas stage, U2 will join a long line of music greats and not so greats who have hit the music jackpot in the city.

Earlier this week, Adele was delighted to announce her rescheduled Weekends With Adele Vegas shows after she was forced to cancel earlier this year due to Covid-19 and issues with stage design (something about a giant on-stage swimming pool, we hear).

Adele

Celine Dion, a true ambassador of iconic glitz and ironic Eurotrash, played no less than 16 years of dates in Sin City. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry (as Vegas as they come) Drake, Britney Spears, Aerosmith and Janet Jackson are also among the dozens of stars who have graced the Vegas stage.

So why not U2? Seeing the band as pinpoints on stage from the far end of a stadium with muddy sound and overpriced beer can be a chore so U2 in the ultimate city of shining lights makes perfect sense.

After all, as one Vegas regular used to sing, "Well, it's one for the money..."

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2