Are you a fan of Las Vegas, the city?
I find it confounding but fascinating. It’s sort of America writ large—incredibly imaginative, ambitious, audacious. But it’s also a place with so many sad stories because of the gambling aspects. You’ve got this litany of amazing artists that have spent a lot of time—Elvis to Frank Sinatra and the whole Rat Pack era. But there’s also the Atomic City phase, where people could come and see the bombs being tested in the Nevada Test Site in the ’50s. These were televised events. So it’s a very crazy place.
Paul McCartney was at the Sphere show. Did you get a chance to talk to him afterward?
We did for a few minutes.
What was his reaction to the show?
Well, he loved it.
Another thing that was unique about your performance was that your bandmate Larry Mullen, Jr., was sitting this out due to health issues. How did having a different drummer affect the performance for you?
Brin [van den Berg] has done incredibly well, a powerhouse of a drummer and also a great guy. He’s made a difficult time for the rest of us as easy as possible. The fact that he’s such a fan of Larry’s playing means that he’s really at pains to try and recreate as close to the original live arrangements as possible. If I didn’t look over the drum kit, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
So is the Sphere the future of entertainment?
I think it’s a new area, a new category, a new medium. From the very first time we saw the mock-up in Burbank with the one-quarter scale screen and we understood the kind of audio system, we thought this is definitely a kind of next step for our band and for our creative team. This could be something like a completely new paradigm. We’re maybe uniquely suited to exploring the potential. But there’s still so much that can be done here.
I think you missed a beat when you played the song “Vertigo” and didn’t use the visuals to actually create vertigo.
That would be no problem whatsoever. [I’ve been on a virtual] roller coaster ride in the mock-up in Burbank where literally you had to hold on to your seat because the balance was so impacted. But we don’t want to push it to the point where people are uncomfortable.
No, you don’t want barfing, do you?
No, that would not be good.