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How To Dismantle An Atomic City



'How long…. Must we song this song'?

Rumour has it that the doors were delayed because the band decided they needed to run through a few things just one more time. On the 40th and final night of the Sphere run.

If you really listened hard enough you just might have heard the deeply embedded refrain of this hymn for our age being slightly adjusted to fit the close of this magnificent mad episode. Quoting Willie Williams, on the day he let us know about it - ‘we’d be mad not to’ 

That was back in early 2023 and yes, there were some who were sceptical… especially on hearing the news that this was going to be without the founder and drummer. A fan poll taken by friends at fan site U2Songs came around 40% saying something like ‘OK, let’s do this! ‘ 40% ‘No way baby!’  and 20% said ‘I just don’t know’… 

Looking back I would count myself in that last group. Of course I wanted to see the band. But no LMJ? And a residency in Vegas? In this new big, round, unfinished building? WTF.

Then the tickets went on sale. WTF! Fans started posting about their travel plans. Which hotel was gonna be best for a view of this thing called Sphere (and for a lot of us with less of a spring in our step these days, which hotel was in budget and shortest walk?) I had not counted myself out of going to this thing as yet, but at the time it seemed just too out of reach. 5000 miles.. cost, effort, hassle. 

September 2023 arrived. Bono & Edge showed up in the desert with Zane Lowe driving us down some kind of Pilgrimage Road leading to the heart of this thing that was almost - not quite ready - to rock and roll baby. Opening night was coming into view on the horizon… WTF!

Before anyone else, Zootopians got a very special invite to a pre-opening night of Zoo Station where around 100 or so saw for the first time the Gavin Friday inspired pop-up neon museum / lounge / satellite of love meet up / shop thing… WTF! @mich40 was there with fellow Zootopians, taking in the vibes and beaming back to @Max Tsukino and the zoo regulars online keen to see what this was all about.

We heard that the GA line, that thing - love or hate - that blesses EVERY U2 show had already been in operation for at least a week. … as opening night dawned, to say anticipation and excitement as to what awaited was off the charts would not be a lie. In person and also online. Those early shows are now all a bit of a blur… all running into one another, 2 or 3 a week of intense activity of just taking in this insane thing. The setlist. The spectacle. The stage. The story arc. The logistics. The visuals. The sound! WTF!

Then more shows announced!. More fan parties, more tickets, we need to go! We need to go back! Vegas bug . We sure caught it. And for me personally, that was never a truer statement. After fighting off and giving myself every excuse under the sun not to go… I went. And, later in the run… I went back. (Worth that 2nd trip alone just to see in person the magnificent moustache of beloved bass man Adam) The afterglow still burns, especially tuning in to newly released band interviews recorded in Zoostation and unheard incredible quality audio of the full last night show in Sphere… I find myself waking up in the wee hours still tuned into Vegas time 5000 miles away running through those Achtung Baby Zoo scenes that are now forever memories. Time shared there with family, with friends, with colleagues and with fellow fans. We took the step. We made the leap.

We’d have been mad not to.


*The title of this wee ramble through the mind map of this journey popped up as I watched in awe, like everyone else in that room, the first time you witness the current night time Vegas skyline recreated in exquisite and incredibly accurate detail on the ‘screen’ that surrounds you. Jaws drop as it is literally dismantled piece by piece as the last part of Atomic City rings out. Then we are left back in the desert. Transported in time to somewhere where there are no streets yet to even have no name. How to dismantle this ‘Atomic City’ indeed.

Perhaps the band, all of them, who did for one magical time all show up in the same room at the same time with a few thousand witnesses, perhaps they might have got an inkling how to do that as we slowly exit this chapter in the U2 story.. this big beautiful fucking LOVE story - far bigger than all of us. Including them. Perhaps they got even more than an inkling of now how to begin do that dismantling… and begin the next step on the journey to the next place, the next chapter of this epic love story.

Will we will be ready when they are… for what’s next? 


How long, to sing this song?

How long to sing this song?

How long… how long… how long… how long?

To sing this song

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