Maybe this would be an amazing app for the Apple headset.
I think so. But I find that being isolated in an immersive experience is very, very different than being at a live event. Even watching a concert film at home on your sofa, you want your friends around.
How did the Sphere’s 168,000-speaker sound system stack up to some of those you’ve used in the past?
The venue itself is really the breakthrough, in the sense that from first principles, it was designed with audio in mind, whereas most of the venues we end up playing above theaters that were designed primarily for sports, where the sound is a very kind of low priority. It’s really paid off. Think about it. From the sound point of view, the dome shape is the worst possible shape for a building. It’s a chaos of reverbs and echoes. But in the Sphere, the entire screen is something like 80 percent permeable, so the sound actually doesn’t really echo back off the screen, it goes through. You hardly have any slapback or reverb. And it’s so controllable. It’s like the best kind of cinema sound—THX, 360 sound. We’re only using a small part of that potential.
How are you planning to evolve these performances over the course of the residency? Are you going to play with the setlist?
A little bit yes to both. We don’t have quite the flexibility we would in a normal situation because the immersive content visually is hard to mess with. It’s incredibly time-consuming to change, as well as expensive. But in the parts of the show that are designed for spontaneity, we’ll do different things for sure.
At one point, a long rope was lowered from the top of the sphere and Bono pulled a young woman from the audience to ride it like a swing. It looked like she came close to slipping off. Are you rethinking that?
We’ll see how that unfolds. The second night, there was no one swinging.
The insurance company stepped in?
I think we’re fully covered. But it’s a lot of fun to, again, play with this bridge between the digital rendering and physical objects. That’s the beauty of this situation, blurring the line. There’s more to be had out of that.