"This is the world premiere of Atomic City, a rock 'n' roll 45 in the tradition of late '70s post-punk": Watch U2 - with Larry Mullen back on drums - premiere new, unreleased song at surprise, free Las Vegas show

U2 in La Vegas
(Image credit: U2 Chile YouTube)

U2 played a surprise free show on the streets of Las Vegas on Saturday (September 16), and treated fans to a world premiere of a new song, Atomic City.

The track was introduced by vocalist Bono as "a rock 'n' roll 45 in the tradition of late '70s post-punk", and featured the return of drummer Larry Mullen, who will be sitting out the band's upcoming residency at Sin City's new MSG Sphere.

In a spot of déjà vu, the band also took the opportunity to film a video for the song at their pop-up Fremont Street gig: back in 1987, the Irish quartet filmed their video for I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For from The Joshua Tree on the same street.

'Atomic City' was a nickname for Las Vegas in the 1950s when the US was testing nuclear bombs at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), 65 miles north of the city.

Watch fan footage of the performance below"

Back in October 2022, Bono raised a few eyebrows when he suggested that the time might now be right for U2 to make a "fuck-off rock‘n’roll album" inspired by er, AC/DC.

"Right now I want to write the most unforgiving, obnoxious, defiant, fuck-off-to-the-pop-charts rock ‘n’ roll song that we’ve ever made," the singer told The New York Times. "I spoke to Edge about it this week. He’s going, 'Is it that call again?' 'What call?' 'The one about we’re going to write the big fuck-off rock song?' And I say, 'Yeah, it’s our job!'"

"I feel myself that there’s a resurgence of interest in guitar," The Edge told Rolling Stone in March. "I sort of feel it instinctually. It’s starting to percolate up. I feel the timing is right. I think it would be wonderful and very welcome for us to make some music that is more driven by guitar. That is the intention. That isn’t to say we are turning into AC/DC, but we will find a way to use the instrument in a fresh way as much as possible. It’s still my first love for me as an instrument."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.