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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 16
The Killers kill it at opening of new T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas)
Arts & Entertainment
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The Killers kill it at opening of new T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas)

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer THE KILLER
T-MOBILE ARENA
(LAS VEGAS)
April 6


Seattle has Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Death Cab for Cutie and dozens of other artists who claim the Emerald City as their home base.

Las Vegas has The Killers. With the exception of guitarist Dave Keuning, who moved to Nevada in 2000, the band grew up and graduated high school in Sin City. They are gods in these parts, rock gods to be exact. They are local heroes, something Las Vegans are proud to call their very own.

Thus, it was rather fitting - if not mandatory - that the honor of christening the newly constructed T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip go to The Killers. Despite no proper tours in recent years, only a limited number of sporadic dates, the four piece group - Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboardist), Mark Stoermer (bassist), Ronnie Vannuci, Jr. (drummer), and Keuning - was more than happy to come out from hiding for this special occasion.

At 10 p.m., following three opening acts and an introduction by another Las Vegas native, Jimmy Kimmel, fans got what they really came to see, The Killers, who began a two hour concert with a jumpy rendition of 'Mr. Brightside' with all the lights left on inside the arena. The lights were turned off for the second number, 'Spaceman,' and remained off for the rest of the show.

Dressed in suits, as is usually the case, The Killers played a lot of material from their 2004 debut Hot Fuss and 2006's Sam's Town, much to the delight of longtime followers who were hoping to hear some of the band's earliest hits. But also on the set list were a few select songs from the unit's most recent albums, 2008's Day & Age and 2012's Battle Born. High above the stage hung a banner that read 'Battle Born Nevada.'

During 'The Way It Was,' Flowers added 'calling out to my hometown tonight' to the lyrics, as a large, blue-lit 'K' dangled above the stage; a smaller case 'k' illuminated in gold was positioned at the foot of the stage. For 'Smile Like You Mean It,' grapefruit-colored rectangular shapes were shown on a giant LED screen behind Vannuci, Jr.'s drum set.

Blue Man Group, resident entertainers in Las Vegas, joined The Killers for 'Human' and then performed a percussion jam session with Vannuci, Jr. Another collaboration featured the band with Wayne Newton on an electrifying cover of Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Good'; Newton, by the way, was one of the opening acts, warming up the 15,000+ crowd with a 30-minute set of classic tunes

. When 'Somebody Told Me,' the biggest hit by The Killers, was played midway through the concert, instead of at the end, it caught many off guard. But the audience ate it up, dancing and bouncing and singing right along.

Flowers, who released two solo albums during the group's hiatus, is one of rock's best vocalists and he proved it on a stunning version of Elvis Presley's 'Can't Help Falling in Love' backed by a single, gentle guitar.

The live feed from the stage to LED screen, which for some odd reason was entirely shown in black & white, malfunctioned during 'Read My Mind.' Before playing the final entry of the main set, 'All These Things I've Done,' which turned into a huge sing-along, Flowers talked about being born in Las Vegas and growing up in the city, something that added sentimental value to this unique moment. Confetti sprayed out into the audience on the floor at the conclusion of the song.

Less than five minutes after waving goodbye to everyone, The Killers re-appeared on stage and ripped into 'Shot at the Night,' a track found on the act's compilation recording Direct Hits. Then came an old favorite, 'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine' with awesome drumming by Vannuci, Jr. and the arena bathed in baby blue-colored laser beams.

Flowers, now sporting a gold jacket with black tee-shirt underneath, strolled the podium from side to side during 'When You Were Young,' as icicle lights showered down like a waterfall onto the stage, plus a series of bright fireworks. For the grand finale, a trio of showgirls and Newton joined The Killers for a performance of 'Viva Las Vegas' as white balloons descended from the roof of T-Mobile Arena to the floor.

This wasn't just a concert, it was a celebration and The Killers went all out for it. They were just as proud as everyone else to break in this brand new entertainment venue, one that we will likely see them perform in again many more times.

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