If you close your eyes, everything about U2's newly launched Las Vegas residency seems old-school, nostalgic, even a bit fuddy-duddy.

The DJ before the band goes on spins your basic '80s hits playlist. The set list by U2 focuses on an album that came out in 1991. The pre-show talk among fans is typically about seeing the group in 1987 or 1997 or sometime in that golden era before child care or comfortable footwear were required to go see a concert.

Just the fact that the residency is happening in Las Vegas makes it feel like an old person's excursion. No offense to fans at Barry Manilow's concurrent residency.

So what a contrast it was in the end — with eyes wide, wide open — to feel like I just witnessed the future of concerts and maybe Las Vegas, too, after taking in the second week of the "U2: UV" run last weekend.

Spoiler alert: Fans who attend U2's Sphere concerts may never want to go to a rock or pop show in a sports arena or stadium ever again. That's how revolutionary and unprecedented this concert experience was — emphasis on "experience" over "concert."

The venue really is the rock star in this case. An ultra-hi-fi, glowing, $2.3 billion globe-like facility designed by the entertainment gurus behind New Madison Square Garden, the Sphere holds center stage at these U2 concerts in every way.

From the opening song, "Zoo Station" — the lead-off track on the concert's centerpiece album, "Achtung Baby" — the 18,600 fans at Sunday's show spent more time gazing upward than looking at the stage.

Even when U2 frontman Bono's face was projected/plastered across the spherical 360-foot-high screen that doubles as the venue's walls and ceiling, it felt like he and his bandmates were at best in the passenger seat giving directions, if not in the back seat.

During the crunchy and staticky "Zoo Station," the towering, 16K-resolution spherical LED video screen overhead transformed from a gray, faux stone pantheon into the brightest, most vividly colorful concert video screen you've ever seen. In "The Fly," it turned into a giant ball of scrolling computer data. In "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World," it became an enormous white balloon with Bono dangling from its string.

Somewhere along the way we saw flying insects, Elvis and the Big Dipper float overhead, too.

The visual gimmicks changed for almost every number, but the audience's gasping response remained a constant. One exception: The midshow acoustic set was more plainly lit. It wound up being the dullest part of the show, too, even though it featured two of the night's biggest hits, "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

The biggest visual hits came in the post-"Achtung Baby" encore. First, the forgettable new single "Atomic City" became an unforgettable visual segment, during which the Las Vegas skyline was literally deconstructed and turned back into a barren desert. The desert backdrop then started glowing with a red sunrise for "Where the Streets Have No Name." Then ocean water filled it all in during "With or Without You," with the Sphere itself floating like a life raft.

What could have been mistaken for a very impressive, new Fly Over America amusement park ride, though, remained a concert first and foremost. It was just a concert with a lot of visual distractions — a tactic U2 has employed with varying success since the early '90s, and one that might be especially to its advantage in 2023.

The Irish quartet is performing for the first time without all four original members, since drummer Larry Mullen Jr. is on the injured list (his little-known, handpicked fill-in Bram van den Berg was more than just fine). Another limping sign, the band resorted to acoustic remakes of old tunes for its latest LP set, the 40-track "Songs of Surrender" (a little less than just fine.)

Also, Bono's once godly singing voice and super-magnetic stage presence are sounding and looking a little more human these days, a little more in line with 63.

It was still a great U2 concert despite those limitations — and with or without the accompanying visual bath.

The sound in the new facility lived up to the hype and price tag, with 167,000 mini speakers laid into the spherical walls like tiles. There was no acoustic bounce, no muddying of Adam Clayton's bass lines, no mistaking the clear and pristine sound.

With the high-quality sonic output, U2's quietly wizardly guitarist the Edge stepped up and stood out even more than usual. The awesomeness in his case had nothing to do with the visual voodoo. Most noticeably, his droning, shoegazer-y guitar work in "Achtung Baby" tracks like "Acrobat" and "Until the End of the World" resonated magically throughout the room.

"Achtung Baby" on the whole held up well and proved a great fit for christening the Sphere, with its songs' heavy influence from ambient music guru Brian Eno, European techno music and the collapse of an old relic, the Berlin Wall.

Whether or not the Sphere marks the wall-crumbing end of more conventional concertgoing experiences — will anyone miss hearing drums echoing off giant scoreboards and sitting in seats angled toward football fields and hockey rinks? — U2's run at it certainly can be heralded as some kind of bold step into the future. Albeit with one foot squarely in the past.

U2: UV

When: Wed., Fri. & Sat. through Dec. 16.

Where: The Sphere, Las Vegas.

Tickets: $268-$600, Ticketmaster.com.