If you’re going to assign yourself the task of redefining spectacle—in Las Vegas, of all places—you’re going to want U2. The band has been exploring the dialectic of intimacy and grandeur for decades, and Achtung Baby, the album they performed (along with a rapturous package of hits) during the 9/29 premiere of their residency at MSG’s fascinating new Vegas venue, Sphere, is ground zero of that odyssey.

The inaugural night of U2’s Sin City spectacular, inarguably the talk of the town, drew a glittering array of celebs and top-tier music execs, several of whom had been instrumental to the Irish legends’ magical career and the conjuring of this wild new chapter (more about that later).

As for the domed, 18k+-cap arena, its ability to cover every surface with stunningly hi-def images and more far surpasses any kind of visual production I’ve ever experienced—what it offers artists is nothing less than a canvas for world-building.

Team U2’s artful deployment of its extraordinary new tools included several dazzling set pieces, one of which was a CGI-like Vegas cityscape that deconstructed itself, girder by girder, until it was a bare desert floor, precisely the terrain from which the band’s most effective work has sprung.

I won’t (and, honestly, can’t) detail all the wonders that flashed and flowed on all those rounded, ever-reconfiguring surfaces—besides, it’s all on shaky YouTube videos for your delectation.

And the fact is that for all the ballyhoo, U2’s music was the most galvanizing effect of all. Bono’s voice is as strong as ever, and he prowled the “turntable” stage with obvious glee. The Edge’s impeccably crafty licks (always exactly what the song requires) and gorgeous harmonies were front and center in the exquisite sound mix. You could feel Adam Clayton’s rumbling, lyrical bass lines in your marrow. Drummer Bram van den Berg, who had the unenviable task of subbing for a still-recuperating Larry Mullen Jr., drove the groove with aplomb and was observably swept up in the band’s esprit de corps.

Attendees were in a lather throughout the set, which featured monsters like “One,” “Mysterious Ways,” “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “With or Without You” and plenty more. There have been other bands that worked a crowd as well as U2, but at this point in history, nobody does it better.

Near the end of the night an emotional Bono, who called himself the luckiest man in the world, acknowledged “our managers,” referring to the many people who’d shepherded the band—all of whom were apparently in the room: Jeffrey and Irving Azoff, Guy Oseary and the O.G., Paul McGuinness. He also saluted Live Nation chief Michael Rapino, show director Willie Williams, MSG’s Jim Dolan (“you mad bastard”) and former label boss Jimmy Iovine (in the house with Dr. Dre and Snoop). Copious Beatles quotes honored another visiting luminary, Sir Paul McCartney.

After the screens went dark and the lights came up, revelers consumed conspicuously at MSG’s generously appointed after-party—then shuffled out into the “real” Vegas. It may still be a clanging, dissembling, sucker-fleecing, neon abomination on the Nevada sand, but it has added, of late, at least one true wonder.