Taking the stage two weeks before the band opens their U2 UV: Achtung Baby residency at the massive MSG Sphere, Bono and company performed the track a couple times during the show, which doubled as a music video shoot for the video’s rumored release later this month.
“Atomic City” takes its title from Las Vegas’ nickname during the days of nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s, when tourism spiked both from gambling and the ability to view the tests in the desert outskirts of the city. Bono described the track as a “rock n’ roll 45 [rpm single] in the tradition of late-Seventies post-punk, Blondie, the Clash.”
During the pop-up concert, Bono noted how the band previously “performed” on Fremont Street: They filmed their “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking” video along the same road in April 1987 when The Joshua Tree Tour brought them to Las Vegas; acknowledging their history on Fremont Street, U2 also performed their stripped-down Songs of Surrender rendition of that song during the pop-up show.
Notably, the video shoot featured the band accompanied by drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who will not be partaking in the MSG Sphere residency while he continues his recovery from back surgery; for the U2 UV: Achtung Baby shows, Dutch drummer Bram van den Berg will serve as his replacement.
“The four of us recorded the song. Sadly, Larry Mullen Jr. won’t be with us at the Sphere,” Bono told the crowd, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. “He doesn’t listen to doctor’s orders. Neither do many of us. But he is here tonight … Give it up for Larry Mullen Jr.!”
The group will kick off its residency on Sept. 29, with additional shows taking place on Sept. 30 and Oct. 5, 7, and 8. One day after the residency was announced, seven more concerts were scheduled throughout October. And a few weeks later, eight more shows were added in December, when the residency – as of now – comes to an end.
“My hope is that this will be a kind of quantum leap forward in the sense of what a concert can be,” the Edge previously told Rolling Stone of the Sphere shows.