“Tonight, the City of Angels and Sin City are getting together,” said Brandon Flowers last night at the Sports Arena, lead singer of the Las Vegas based Killers. “We'll try not to corrupt you.”
For 90 minutes, Flowers and company danced and moved on stage; it was the fourth night of the North American leg of their “Battle Born World” tour, and the quartet (plus two touring hands) that had as much sizzle as substance, if not more. There were explosions, light shows, a huge screen and flying sparks during tracks like set opener “When We Were Young,” not to mention falling confetti and the obligatory Pink Floyd-styles lasers. It was Arena Rock 101, and it's fair to say the band aced their exam.
At a time when many of their former mid-aught contemporaries have either fallen off, split up or are barely hanging on, the act has achieved a catalog of hits and a sense of permanence good enough for, well, a residency in Vegas. This cause wasn't necessarily hurt when Mitt Romney called them one of his favorite groups during the presidential campaign. Unlike Rage Against the Machine, who dismissed Paul Ryan's praises, the Killers stayed neutral. They released their fourth studio album, Battle Born, in the campaign's final weeks.
After nearly a decade of being pretty famous, The Killers had developed a reputation for reliability. They could usually be counted on for a few poppin' singles per album, which pull in some new fans without straying too from their successful songwriting formula.
Battle Born, however, has been something of an exception. The album's sound was a departure from their previous works, and its songs felt out of place within the context of the show. Folks at the show weren't really feeling tracks like, “Flesh and Bone,” “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “From Here On Out,” which felt more like overproduced heartland anthems instead of the crisp electro-driven alt rock.
Still, their road-tested winners from earlier in their earlier catalog retained their punchy pop flavor. Radio staples like “Spaceman,” “Human” and “Somebody Told Me” won the crowd over, and fit within the bombast of the band's polished stage show. Flowers and company were at their most comfortable and best when they stuck with their older material, which isn't the worst thing in the world.
Critical Bias: Ahead of Mitt Romney but behind Wilford Brimley, Brandon Flowers is my second favorite Mormon.
The Crowd: More people than usual were either A) being dragged out by the security for being too drunk or B) throwing up in garbage pails.
Random Notebook Dump: Concerts featuring sign language interpreters are what's up.
Set list below:
When You Were Young
The Way It Was
Smile Like You Mean It
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Shadowplay (Joy Division cover)
California Girls (The Beach Boys cover)
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
Somebody Told Me
From Here On Out
For Reasons Unknown
Miss Atomic Bomb
All These Things That I've Done
Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
I Think We're Alone Now (Tommy James and The Shondells)