1. The band’s finally coming back. Given its infrequent Las Vegas tour bookings over the years, it seems U2 has yet to decide whether it can live with or without us. The strident Irish quartet broke Sam Boyd Stadium’s box office records during 2009’s 360° tour, but passed on returning to that venue for last year’s widescreen Joshua Tree revival, and similarly snuffed us two years before that during its Innocence + Experience arena tour. It’s feeling bullish on Las Vegas of late, however. Two years after its eight-song set during the iHeart
Radio Music Festival, the band finds its way back to T-Mobile this week for a two-night stand early in its Experience + Innocence tour, a sequel to the aforementioned 2015 jaunt.
2. The concert tells a story. A stop supporting last year’s disappointing Songs of Experience doesn’t inspire confidence in a grand Vegas comeback, but the tour’s thematic arcs show promise. After launching into the show with some big numbers, the program segues into suite of songs that lyrically and visually recount both the violent history of the band’s native Ireland and lead singer Bono’s turbulent childhood. The musicians then move closer to the audience, bang out a couple obligatory crowdpleasers and then delve into a second narrative segment addressing the political confusion and social injustice rife in Trump’s America.
3. It’s another technological marvel. In the grand tradition of its Zoo TV, PopMart and 360° tours, U2 will share the stage with some serious hardware. Stages at either end of the GA floor will be connected by a catwalk, over which a pair of parallel hi-res screens will stretch, bisecting the arena not unlike the setup for Roger Waters’ tour last year. Members of the band will occasionally perform on an elevated, narrow walkway between those screens, immersing themselves with the onscreen visuals. The screens will also complement an augmented reality option available to fans who download the band’s free Experience app onto their smartphones.
4. U2 isn’t a greatest-hits band yet. It takes some real chutzpah to disqualify your most successful album from the tour setlist, though U2 did just spend 2017 playing The Joshua Tree in its entirety. Still, this looks to be the first time ever the band will forego such a reliable staple as “Where the Streets Have No Name.” With the band’s prioritization of songs from Experience and Innocence, only a smattering of radio favorites will punch up the two Vegas setlists (between which you should expect few deviations).
5. “Acrobat.” No, there won’t be a guest Cirque du Soleil appearance. Diehards have been beside themselves since the tour kickoff, when the band played the Achtung Baby scorcher for the very first time. Relish this opportunity, local fans—even with talk that U2 could stage a 30th anniversary Achtung tour in 2021, you know that Vegas date is hardly a lock.
U2 May 11 & 12, 8 p.m. $46-$330. T-Mobile Arena, 702-692-1600.