The trailer for U2’s upcoming residency at the MSG Sphere features a mysterious floating orb, unintentionally appearing to reference the ongoing tensions between the US and China over presumed spy balloons. It has been an open secret for months that the Irish rock band would inaugurate the new entertainment venue. An extended version of the trailer aired during the Super Bowl on Feb. 12, confirming the rumor.
The show will center around the band’s iconic 1991 album, Achtung Baby. Though U2 released six albums before Achtung Baby – and eight more since – it represents the pinnacle of the band’s fame. In the trailer, U2 fans around the world hear clips from hit songs like Mysterious Ways and One before being “beamed” aboard the sphere, Star Trek-style.
It should go without saying that parallels to the unfolding spy balloon crisis are entirely coincidental. The production timeline for such a spot is many months at least. Meanwhile, the balloon sighting that first sparked international tensions came less than two weeks ago. However, the timing is uncanny, as is the fact that the US has been using U-2 spy planes to track the balloons.
Naturally, the resemblance didn’t go unnoticed by Twitter. Dozens of tweets appeared as soon as the spot aired, jokingly accusing U2 of staging the balloon incident to promote its show or proposing more complicated conspiracy theories.
All the Chinese spy balloon stuff is just guerilla marketing for the “U2 at the Sphere” concert
— Alex Barnes 🇺🇸 (@ABarnes94) February 13, 2023
All in all, it works out very well for U2 and its business partners. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and the coincidence certainly got people talking.
MSG Sphere to Open Fall 2023 With U2 in Residence
The MSG in the Sphere’s name refers to Madison Square Garden, the company behind the project. It began in 2018 as a partnership with Las Vegas Sands (LVS). However, when LVS dispensed of its US properties, Vici Properties acquired the Sphere along with the Venetian.
Like many projects of its magnitude, the Sphere has proven to be something of a money pit. When construction began, the cost estimate was a modest $1.2 billion. Now, the final bill is on track to come in at more like $2.2 billion.
When it opens this fall, the 366-foot diameter Sphere will have the world’s highest-resolution LED screen, as large as several football fields and featuring 256 million pixels. For audio, it will have 160,000 speakers and a setup for haptic infrasound.
The real thing is close enough to alien technology, it’s no wonder people are drawing parallels with UFOs.