Sometimes you have good luck in Vegas, and sometimes you have bad luck. Sometimes it’s a little of both. When the rest of the family got BTS tickets sorted for their big show at the local football stadium, I had to find something to do. “Well, my third favorite band is brought to you via fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada,” I thought, “What are the odds they’re maybe doing a show that night?” And what’d ya know?
The Killers had a three-night run at The Chelsea Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan Hotel right on the strip. It’s an odd little venue tucked away among the hotel’s conference and meeting rooms. Indeed, we had to queue through a conference room to get into the ballroom.
It was an interesting choice, because the band could have easily played in a much bigger room. The first proper shows back from the pandemic, though, called for intimacy. And they played it like it was a stadium anyway.
No opening act, by the way, just the lads. They opened with “My Own Soul’s Warning” from Imploding the Mirage, which turned out to be a great choice, and that was before the confetti canons went off. They stuck with that album and rolled into “Dying Breed,” followed by an old fave, “Bling (Confessions of a King).”
“Human” shifted the crowd into high gear, with Flowers conducting a crowd sing-along. It’s funny. Murray Valeriano, one of the rotating cohosts of the Rock Solid podcast once said that Brandon Flowers is a terrible frontman, and he couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed, when I think of my other favorite contemporary groups like Vampire Weekend and CHVRCHES, Flowers is tops in his field. I love them dearly, but neither Ezra nor Lauren are going to jump up on the monitors and conduct a sing-along of “A Punk” or “The Mother We Share,” respectively. It should be noted that Valeriano’s favorite band is U2, so if that’s your measuring stick…
In any case, “Human” worked great batting cleanup. However, two songs later, it was “Mr. Brightside.” Maybe it’s just me, in fact, it almost certainly is just me, but “Mr. Brightside” is too emotional to drop in the middle of the set like that. I’ve heard it as the opener (which worked under the circumstances; baseball All-Star weekend in Cleveland in 2019) and as the closer, and it should be the closer. They knocked out “Somebody Told Me” straight after.
It was a bunch of newer tracks after that, none of which, unfortunately, were “Quiet Town” from their latest album, Pressure Machine. We did get “Cody” and “In the Car Outside.”
Yes, they’re influenced by a lot of ‘80s alternative and new wave, but Brandon Flowers, at times, is Bruce Springsteen (crossed with Stan Ridgway) weaving his tales of hardscrabble lives in the desert Southwest. The new version of “Dustland Fairy Tale” with the Boss taking the first verse makes so much sense it’s a wonder they didn’t do it ages ago.
“Smile Like you Mean It” made an appearance between “In the Car Outside” and “The Getting II,” both from Pressure Machine. And here’s where it gets confusing. It’s the Imploding the Mirage Tour, but the latest album is Pressure Machine.
A run of hit singles finished the set, followed by an encore of “Spaceman,” “Midnight Show,” “When You Were Young,” and from Imploding, “Caution.” A 10 out of 10 effort to be sure, except I looked up the setlist for the next two nights, and Saturday was awesome! Two encores for that audience. The first contained “Quiet Town, the final one featured “The Man,” “Human,” and “Mr. Brightside.” You’re killin’ me, Brandon, you’re killin’ me…as it were.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.