So, my next U2 concert is in Las Vegas and knowing that there are a few U2 relevant sites in town (e.g. the video for I Still Haven’t Found What I am Looking For was filmed in Vegas in 1987 and PopMart opened there at the Sam Boyd Stadium in 1997), I thought I better start researching where I need to visit…
And, well, if I’m going to do all this research, I might as well share the results on here for anyone else that might be interested!
So welcome to the U2 Las Vegas City Guide! As with my other U2 City Guides (for Dublin and Berlin), I’ve included a map :D. (Courtesy of my Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Las Vegas Guidebook 2016)
It’s a short list… so considering the closeness, I’m including The Tree. And The Motel… See below.
U2 Sites in Las Vegas
Fremont Street: Perhaps the most well-known U2 – Las Vegas connection. The video for I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For was filmed on Fremont Street in the downtown core after their inaugural Las Vegas concert at the Thomas and Mack Arena on April 12, 1987.
Fremont Street was established in 1905 when the town was founded and held some of the more famous casinos, such as the Golden Nugget, in its day.
This article offers a look at the filming of the video and details how Fremont Street has changed since U2 filmed there. According to the director, the concept for the video was simple: “… let’s shoot the most sincere song they’ve ever written in the least sincere city they’ve ever played.” 😀
Some of the casinos that are featured in the video include:
- The Pioneer Club;
- Fremont Hotel;
- Binion’s Horseshoe;
- Golden Gate Hotel;
- Golden Nugget;
- Las Vegas Club; and
- The Mint.
When I was there for the eXPERIENCE & iNNOCENCE show in May 2018, a number of these casinos were still around. Here’s a collage of my photos and snaps from the video.
Annnnd there’s a zipline down Fremont! Check out The Fremont Experience website for info on the zipline and other things to do and see in the area. Like the following…
U2 Show – The Dome at Container Park: (707 E Fremont Street) $12 Matinee – $15 Standard Show. This isn’t really a ‘U2 site’ so much as an event… It’s not really a laser show, it’s not really a movie, it’s not concert footage either… So what is this mysterious show??? This is how the website describes it:
“You’ve heard the band. Now SEE the music. U2 brings to life the band’s expansive catalog with rich, CGI imagery. Immerse yourself in the music of one of rock n’ roll’s most prolific bands!”
I have no idea if this is a permanent show, so check the website for listings to ensure it is there when you are there 😀 (And please let me know if it goes away so I can update this list, thanks!!)
U2 Vegas Concert Venues
U2 have played a number of venues in Vegas since their first show at the Thomas and Mack Centre in 1987. Perhaps most notable are the opening night for Popmart in 1997 and this raging performance for iHeart Music Festival in 2016 at the T-Mobile Arena.
Here are the venues U2 have played in Las Vegas over the years, either on their own tours or as guest appearances (for information on specific tour dates at the venues, check out www.u2gigs.com):
- Thomas and Mack Center (4505 S Maryland Pkwy)
- T-Mobile Arena (3780 S Las Vegas Blvd)
- Sam Boyd Stadium (7000 E Russell Rd)
- House Of Blues (Mandalay Bay Hotel) – On March 2, 1999, Bono joined Bob Dylan onstage at Bob’s concert for a song.
- MGM Grand Garden Arena (3799 S Las Vegas Blvd)
Getting Around Vegas
A friend of mine who visits Vegas frequently has advised me to take Uber instead of taxis to get around Vegas – apparently Ubers are significantly cheaper. If you’ve been, or live there, do you agree?
For trips between the Strip and Downtown (e.g. to Fremont Street), there are two city buses – the Deuce and the SDX. The SDX is faster (SDX = Strip & Downtown Express).
There is also a Monorail between the MGM Grand and SLS and several trams between casinos.
Outside Las Vegas
The Joshua Tree (GPS Coordinates: 36.33088, -117.74527): Though I’ve never been to this sacred U2 site, Google Maps tells me our tree is about a 3 and a half hour drive from Vegas via US-95 N and CA-190 W. This blog details one couple’s journey to see the tree, complete with the above GPS coordinates and these location details:
“Route 190, 14 miles West of Father Crowley Lookout near the West entrance to Death Valley National Park, or, 13 miles southeast of Keeler on Route 190. The tree is found on the South side of 190, about one quarter mile in from the road.”
As most fans probably know by now, the tree is no longer standing. It lies on the desert floor, surrounded by much love and offerings by fellow fans. I have dreams of making it there one day…
If you do go, be sure to bring lots of bottled water, make sure your car is in good condition etc., as the tree is, well, in the middle of the desert, apparently far from any service stations, etc. and it can get dangerously hot… tips from fans that have been 😀
And just in case you want to do it all in one trip, it is another 4 hours from the tree to The Harmony Motel…
Harmony Motel (The Joshua Tree National Park): U2 stayed at this motel in 1987 (apparently in Room #4) on their trip across the desert. It is approximately 3 hours from Vegas (also according to Google Maps – see below) via I-15 S and N Amboy Road. (Making a 10 plus hour drive if you loop from Vegas to the tree to the motel and back to Vegas – just in driving so add wandering and soaking in the awesome rock history magicalness time…)
This motel, like The Tree, is on my bucket list… someday I will get there! There’s a pool… I might have to try to book Room 4 and stay a night or two…
Here is another tip from a fan – and I can’t believe I forgot Zabriskie Point! (Thank you (Jeff Fairbanks via Facebook!):
“On the way to the JT site it is also worth stopping at Zabriskie Point, the site of the JT album cover. There are also sites at Death Valley Junction where other photos for The JT Tour Program were taken. The portion of 190 from Olancha to The Keeler turnoff is the road featured in the 2017 tour during the song WTSHNName, see photo. I would suggest doing the Harmony Motel trip on a different trip unless you plan to spend the night at the Harmony. If renting a car in Vegas, make sure you are allowed to drive it out of state. Fremont Street has changed significantly but you can still find several spots that are shown in the video. The best time to be at the JT site is around noon for taking photos. I would plan to allow an hour for the Joshua Tree site.”
And that’s that… Not at many U2 sites as Dublin or Berlin, but still a pretty cool connection to this band! I can’t wait to check these out!
If you know of any other U2 sites in or around Vegas, please let me know! If you’ve been to any of these sites and have any tips or stories, please feel free to share!
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