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U2 announces their Las Vegas residency at the MSG Sphere. Who’s this new drummer? And did you catch the reference to Ontario?

In what was the worst-kept secret in music, U2 took some time during the Super Bowl to announce that they will be holding a residency “special run of shows” at the brand-new, ultra-state-of-the-art, 17,000-person-capacity, and very round MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. The official name of the residency is U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere.

The four-minute video, which must have cost a bazillion dollars, follows the storyline of people from all over the world who suddenly disappear, only to materialize in the desert. “Where are we?” says one. “Well, we’re not in Dublin,” says another. The sphere then descends over the crowd, revealing Bono and The Edge.

“Are we doing this?” asks The Edge. Bono: “We’d be mad not to.” They’re soon joined by Adam and Larry. And then we’re treated to a 2001: A Space Odyssey moment. Achtung, indeed.

What interesting coincidental timing, too. I can name a few other “mysterious spheres” that have appeared recently. Social media noticed this, too. Naturally, there were smartasses who demanded that this sphere be shot down.

Okay, what about the stories regarding Larry Mullen Jr’s health? He’s still recovering from surgery on his back. He’ll be there, but not behind the kit. His spot will be filled by Dutch drummer Bram van den Berg.

Who’s he? Good question. To be honest, I’d never heard of him. Van der Berg is an alumnus of a couple of Dutch bands, the biggest being Krezip. But a little digging reveals that he was photographed by Anton Corbijn, U2’s favourite photographer. Anton’s brother, Maartin, also directed a video for one of Bram’s bands. That’s how U2 probably got to know him.

The dude is pretty good. Interesting how this kit is set up a lot like what Larry plays.

Bram is a big Taylor Hawkins fan. Here’s a shot of him posing with Taylor when he was still a kid.

Toronto is represented in the spot by Mark Baker aka U2BRTHR, one of the world’s biggest U2 fans and bass player in a U2 tribute band called Acrobat. He’s also a tech-house DJ and–get this–an elementary school teacher. Here’s a screenshot.

And yes, that’s an actual Ontario license plate. Here’s Mark’s car.

There’s a documentary on the guy, too. See if you can spot me.

The video also features another Ontarian, Marco Pinto, as the MacPhisto character. He’s been invited onstage to dance with U2 in the past.

(With files from Raven)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37441 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “U2 announces their Las Vegas residency at the MSG Sphere. Who’s this new drummer? And did you catch the reference to Ontario?

  • Why is it the same 30 fans always appear in these U2-related moments, especially the perpetual narcissist U2 Brothr? They guy walks around like he’s the fifth member of the band, and a subsect of fans treat him as such.

  • Oh mercy… the human element of envy rears it’s ugly (but easily recognizable) head… I met that Mark guy… nice dude… If it’s a serious question – I propose that U2 can only reach out to so many fans and that this ‘sub-sect’ are simply the ones U2 have developed trusting relationships with over the years. Some fans appear to celebrate these fans and simply appreciate U2 making an effort with part of the fanbase.

  • I am very happy for the fans who got to be featured in the video. But please note that all these fans were already known to the band. I am a visual artist and my dream is for U2 to use my art. I work hard to accomplish my goal. I am also a homeless survivor, in Dublin of all places. My story was passed on the band and was narrated on the “Five Songs” on U2’s Sirius XM Radio, only to be largely edited because I was told it was too “graphic.” Being in that video would have meant a great deal to me: a glimpse of hope to see my dream come true. But it did not happen and I feel I was robbed. I really do. I just don’t think it’s right that it’s always the same fans who get lucky. A few weeks ago, U2’s management sent 40 letters to 40 random fans. Well, these were not exactly random but rather carefully selected. I just hope my time will come.


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