By Jacqueline Monahan
“Las Vegas, we’re home!”
The roar of the crowd was an indication of how welcome The Killers were after lead singer Brandon Flowers addressed the sea of adoring fans.
The date: August 26, 2022. The Place: T-Mobile Arena
Photo credit: John Hardin
But first things first. Special guest Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths, performed an eight-song set, his mellow voice sliding through such Smiths classics as Panic, The Charming Man, and the ever-so-recognizable and chill inducing riff that begins the introduction of mega hit How Soon Is Now? Marr thanked the crowd for being so polite and welcoming, behavior not all that common for stoked fans waiting for their idols through an opening act.
Johnny Marr Opens the Show
Photo Credit: John Hardin
The entire main floor of T-Mobile Arena was filled with standing attendees, people that did not get to sit down for THE ENTIRE SHOW. That they welcomed Marr and cheered him on was a testament to the celebratory, good-time vibe that pervaded the venue from beginning to end.
Between sets, while musical equipment was being set up, there were two marriage proposals in Section 3, and four huge audience waves that started on the main floor and swept around the arena from right to left. Someone shared a flask of cognac with a stranger. Road techs with neon-accented vacuum cleaners swept the stage. Anticipation was so thick, it made some of the concertgoers giddy. Beer definitely helped.
The Killers took the stage at 9:06 to a collective scream of approval. Those of us lucky enough to have seats soon found that the best way to see the concert was to join our main floor guests in standing for extended periods of time during The Killers’ 20+ song set and three song encore (bring back Johnny Marr for a Smiths cover of There’s a Light That Never Goes Out and ending with Mr. Brightside (of course)!
The Killers played for 1 hour and 45 minutes, beginning with My Own Soul’s Warning. The charismatic Flowers, slightly channeling an Elvis-like persona, made sure to cover the length of the stage while singing a variety of hits from The Killers’ catalogue.
This was their Imploding the Mirage tour, but the group played tracks from several of their previous albums. From Run for Cover: Caution, My Own Soul’s Warning. From Hot Fuss: Mr. Brightside, All These Things That I’ve Done, Somebody Told Me, Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, and Smile Like You Mean It. From Battle Born: Runaways. From Wonderful Wonderful: The Man. From Day and Age: Dustland Fairytale, Human. From Pressure Machine: Pressure Machine. From Boy: boy. From Sam’s Town: When You Were Young, Enterlude, Read My Mind. From Direct Hits: Shot at the Night. From Imploding The Mirage: Running Towards a Place, Fire In Bone, and Dying Breed.
Through it all, Flowers, front man and stylish showman, addressed the crowd between songs, mentioned the band’s 20-year history (2002-2022) his appreciation for the fans and love for Las Vegas, the band’s hometown. Clad in a black suit with red panels sparkling with silver studs, he was understated but flashy, and undeniably Vegas. Flowers also played keyboards during the show, while lead guitarist and founding member Dave Kuening appeared to be in an ecstatic trance, appreciating the music being made.
Photo Credit: John Hardin
Drummer Ronnie Vanucci (UNLV graduate) and touring musicians Jake Blanton (bass) and Ted Sablay (guitar, vocals) comprised the rest of the group’s personnel. Backup singers Melissa McMillan, Erica Canales, and Tori Allen lent vocals to several of the songs, with Allen intermittently augmenting the music with acoustic guitar and violin.
Visuals included several confetti cannon blasts that covered the main floor and lingered in the air for well over 10 minutes. A huge screen covered the entire backdrop of the enormous stage and was filled with projected images of skyscapes, flowers, deserts, and scenes of the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown. For the song Human, the screen was separated into dozens of vertical rectangles showing images of male and females dancers dressed in white. Laser lights filled the arena at several points during the show, with a shower of sparks falling from the backdrop at one point.
The View From the Stage
Photo Credit: John Hardin
Two large screens flanked the stage and broadcast robot camera footage, many times in black and white. The color was all onstage, in smoke, in light, and in projected image. Slower songs elicited a modern day “cigarette lighter” homage . No fire, but hundreds of smartphone flashlights twinkled from the floor and the stands.
In a surprising cover, Flowers sang the Roberta Flack hit, The First Time Ever I saw Your Face, highlighting his extensive, pitch-perfect vocal ability. Your humble correspondent’s personal favorite, Somebody Told Me, was a dazzler in the show, the live version more rock than the studio recording. During Read My Mind, Flowers sang an interlude of Bill Withers’ Lean on Me.
Throughout the set, fans everywhere provided a slight echo, singing every memorized lyric without missing a beat and without stopping. The celebratory atmosphere spoke to the fans’ dedication, all united by Killer love.
Thousands of arms reached skyward as if offering a collective hug of appreciation and approval.
As the most successful group to come out of Las Vegas, the Killers have sold 28 million records worldwide, have played in over 50 countries on six continents, and have had tremendous success in the UK, with every one of their albums hitting the #1spot. Mr. Brightside stayed in the UK’s top 100 for FIVE YEARS.
Brandon Flowers has met both Paul McCartney and Prince Harry, the latter has been said to have jammed with the group for ten years.
The tour continues in various U.S. cities until October 10, then heads to South America, new Zealand, and Australia, ending in Mid-December, 2022.
Based on their long-running track record, there’s no doubt they’ll be back.