U2’s Bono Dedicates ‘All I Want Is You’ to First Lady Jill Biden During Final Sphere Performance

U2 wrapped the inaugural residency at Las Vegas‘ $2.3 billion technical and visual marvel Sphere this weekend, closing out a 40-show run that started in September. Fittingly, the legendary band did so by bringing things full circle.

The shows commemorated one of U2’s most successful records, the chart-topping 1991 release Achtung Baby, played in its entirety with selected tracks from other U2 efforts over the years. To further honor the album, U2 bandmates Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Bram van den Berg (sitting in during the residency for an ailing Larry Mullen Jr.) welcomed Achtung Baby producer Daniel Lanois to the stage on Saturday night to play guitar and sing backup on the track “One.”

“There would be no Achtung Baby without Daniel Lanois,” Bono said in welcoming him up the back stairs with a request to the audience. “Show him your light,” and they did by holding up smartphone flashbulbs in a beautiful scene. And there would be no U2 without Mullen, who was given a special shout-out from the band during both the Friday and Saturday night performances at Sphere, located at The Venetian Resort. But it was on Friday when the following happened.

“The rumors that Larry will be playing with us tonight are not true, sadly. But he is here with us,” Bono said of the drummer, who spent 2023 recuperating from surgery and injuries he sustained over a career rocking out. “That is the man who pinned the note on the notice board at Mount Temple Comprehensive School all those years ago. We are very grateful that he did, and that he’s here with us tonight. We wish him a speedy, speedy, speedy recovery. We love you, Larry Mullen Jr.”

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Cameras then cut to a VIP box where Mullen was seen beaming in front of the capacity crowd close to 20,000, as the audience erupted with cheers and chants of “Larry!” There were other VIPs on the scene for the final weekend of Sphere shows starring U2. Fellow rocker Lenny Kravitz checked out Friday’s show and on Saturday night, when The Hollywood Reporter was in attendance, rock star Dave Grohl and Brett Ratner were spotted. On the microphone, Bono also offered happy birthday wishes to Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Mick Jagger’s daughter, Elizabeth Jagger, both of whom turned a year older on March 2 birthdays and presumably celebrated inside Sphere.

But there was one more extra special VIP in attendance. Ahead of performing “All I Want Is You,” a song from their 1988 album Rattle and Hum, Bono had a few words to say and some news to break about that boldfaced name in the building.

“This song, when we wrote it, I tried to write the lyrics from the point of view of the woman or the bride, in this case, which is pretty arrogant, I suppose. That was a trick for me to get to the lyric I was playing on myself,” explained Bono. “Tonight, I want to dedicate it to all the great women in our lives — our partners, our mothers, our daughters, all the women on the U2 crew, all the great women in our audience that we feel we know, and all the great women in parts of the world going through very difficult circumstances that we could never know. And one woman in particular who is with us tonight, she’s a teacher. She’s your First Lady, so this is for Jill Biden.”

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The audience cheered, and the woman seated next to THR whispered, “That explains all the extra security and bomb-sniffing dogs at the VIP drop-off and in the garage.” According to local reports, Biden touched down in Las Vegas on Saturday for a campaign event for her husband President Biden’s re-election efforts in the important swing state of Nevada. No word on whether she experienced any issues, though countless Vegas visitors faced massive delays and canceled flights due to heavy winds in the area.

Saturday night’s show, which kicked off at 9 p.m. following an opening DJ set from Pauli Lovejoy aka Pauli the PSM, also featured other notable moments. U2 closed out the concert by playing “40,” a 1983 tune from War that they previously leaned on to close many gigs during the 1980s. In another fitting moment, it was the 40th show. “It’s been 40 days and 40 nights in the desert,” Bono noted. “What’s a fellow with a messianic complex going to do? Here’s a song we wrote in 40 minutes. I opened up the sacred text of the Psalm of David. I just kind of read it out. That was the lyric.”

Closer to the top of the show, Bono explained how the band was feeling at the end of this groundbreaking run. “Look where we get to go to work. Welcome to the last night of Achtung Baby at the Sphere. This evening we are not just getting married in an Elvis chapel, we are getting married in an Elvis cathedral. We are feeling very much alive. Grateful to be alive, and in quite a flirtatious mood actually.”

The mood also got profoundly political later in the night when Bono and the band turned their attention to Alexei Navalny, something they’ve been doing during the shows since the death of the Russian opposition leader on Feb. 16. They’ve dedicated performances of the Crowded House hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” and the song was included on Saturday’s setlist once again but became brand new thanks to Crowded House founding member Neil Finn.

“This is a tightly constructed show, but as it’s our last night, we wondered if it might be OK to experiment on you a little bit. The idea is to record something special to honor Alexei Navalny’s widow, Yulia, who is continuing a fight against Vladimir Putin for a free, free Russia, which is what we want for the Russian people,” Bono announced in setting up the special moment. “The other day we got a beautiful email from Neil Finn, who wrote this bewildering beautiful song and he attached to the email a version of this song that he said we could play on or whatever we wanted. It’s a new version that he did, and we thought if we are going to record it, well, maybe if you would be on that recording and we could make that session the last night recording session and dedicating it to Yulia.”

He called the track “a song about freedom,” and before they got going, he made a request of the audience. “Let’s try and record this if we might. Neither parties have spoken to our record labels, so this might be the only recording that ever exists so please take out your phones and send it to whoever loves freedom that you know,” Bono said of the recording, seen in its entirety below. “And maybe send it to some people that don’t — there’s a few of them around.”

Following the U2: UV Achtung Baby residency, the Irish rockers are said to be focusing their attention on a rock heavy album. As for Sphere, U2 will be replaced on the schedule with upcoming dates by Dead & Company, Phish and other special events like Darren Aronofsky’s immersive film experience Postcard From Earth.

This article originally appeared in THR.com.

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