There just aren’t enough words to describe U2’s May 11 Experience and Innocence concert at T-Mobile Arena. Las Vegas fans had been waiting for Bono and the boys—The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton—to return with an official tour since 2009, so tickets went fast. So fast, in fact, Live Nation added a second show the following night.
The Irish rockers, who’ve been together 42 years, are known for their catalog of soulful anthems with a social-conscious and high-tech stage productions. And this tour was no different. The Experience and Innocence tour is about promoting their 14th studio album, Songs of Experience, which dropped December 2017. Think of the album as a chapter in a book of songs, which started with 2014’s Songs of Innocence album. This tour is the sequel to 2015’s Innocence and Experience.
To stay on theme, they repurposed the set from 2015, but added new tricks such as an augmented reality mobile app to trigger special content at the beginning of the show. For a devout U2 follower, there’s nothing like seeing an avatar of Bono projected onto a 96-by-22-feet video wall in the middle of the venue floor—or watching the band perform on a catwalk within the LED display. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers also worked two stages positioned at opposite ends connected by a walkway.
It was a carefully balanced show starting with the sublime, “Love is All We Have Left,” off the current album, and gradually moving into hit “Beautiful Day,” which energized the crowd. “What a feeling waking up in the dessert. What a feeling waking up,” Bono said.
There were intimate moments when the frontman shared, “I have very few childhood memories, even fewer of my mother [Iris]. So I write to remember her.” “Iris (Hold Me Close),” played against a backdrop of home video of his mom who he lost as a teen.
Photos by Al Powers
You’d expect the group to get political and they certainly did with “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride,” with graphic messages on screen that read: “Refugees welcome” and “Don’t shoot.” But you could feel the tension in the air when the lead singer, dressed in white face paint and a top hat, said, “The KKK is out in the streets of Charlottesville without their masks.” Footage rolled in from the white nationalists march in Charlottesville, Virginia last August.
To wrap up the show, Bono paid tribute to those impacted by the 1 October tragedy and praised the community for giving blood and looking after their neighbors. “I’m going to turn this next song into a prayer, with that said, thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he said. The song was “One,” and the crowd was moved as they used their phones to light up the room.