December 29, 2012
Going to Las Vegas to party for New Year's has long been the southern Californian's go-to tactic for no-frills debauchery in a state where it pays to be a degenerate. And while most of the time ringing in the new year is reason enough to brave the traffic, long lines and legions of bobbleheads dawdling around virtually every square foot of sin city, sometimes there's actually a special event that draws people to the desert this time of year. This year, it was The Killers' two night stint, Dec. 28th-29th, at the Chelsea Theater inside the Cosmopolitan hotel.
Being that the Killers originally hail from Las Vegas (read: homecoming show fuckery abound) and the fact that the only southern California tour dates they've designated was one show at the Henry Fonda theater in LA back in September (on a Wednesday night, no less) and then two festival appearances this past month (91X's Wrex the Halls in San Diego & the KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas 2012), with no further SoCal dates posted on the band's website, catching the Killers in their hometown seemed the only way for an OC Killers fan to go.
The Killers took the stage for their homecoming show at the Chelsea (AKA, the most over priced, overrated venue on the Strip) around 11 p.m. and played for close to 90 minutes. And while they gave us a long, hard set that sounded great and had some fun surprises (ex., they threw in a cover of Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas"), it all came off as strictly business, and nearly devoid of the intimacy normally reserved for hometown shows. Yeah, they sounded tight and they definitely rocked hard, but the band gave us nothing in the way of any sort of home-town show insight, or even any "we wrote such-and-such song in a basement not far from here" type of anecdotes.
As for what frontman Brandon Flowers and his band of Killers did do, they did put on a solid show full of both popular hits such as "Smile Like You Mean It," "Read My Mind" and "Somebody Told Me," as well as some more fan-favorite classics like "Bling (Confessions of a King)" and "Shadowplay (originally a Joy Division song)." The single best move the band made? Opening the show with Sam's Town - the crowd completely lost its shit.
When looking at Saturday night's show at the Chelsea, it's became obvious that the band has grown up significantly since they first got their start as a Vegas garage band nearly 8 years ago, which their current album and tour reflect. The new album, Battle Born, which came out earlier this fall, received mixed reviews and plays more like a Springsteen tribute album than a balls-out-guitar driven Killers album. And while Brandon and the boys knew better than to bore us by playing a bunch of snoozers off of the new album, they also didn't do much to refute the notion that perhaps their days as the top edgy guitar band on the scene are being eclipsed by hungrier, less flashy acts like the Black Keys, who also had New Year's gigs at The Joint lined up for the holiday weekend.
The verdict: Bring back the ballsy guitars, we wanna breathe that fire again!
Critic's Bias: Aside from being one of my favorite songwriters of all time, Brandon Flowers has held the number one spot in my spank bank since 2007, and he still manages to stand uncontested in that spot to this day. God bless him.
The Crowd: Mostly glam-rock 30-somethings all decked out in their Cosmopolitan best. A lot of dudes in derby hats and guy-liner. Throngs of dames in their best black dresses, just looking to add some choice visuals of Brandon Flowers strutting around on stage to the old spank bank. (We might be projecting here a bit.)
Overheard in the Crowd: "I can't believe how shitty this venue is for the money we paid!"
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Random Notebook Dump: On the way out of the show I overheard a guy asking his date, "So, are we human or are we dancers? I'm so confused." ...Only in Vegas!
When You Were Young
Somebody Told Me
The Way it Was
Smile Like You Mean It
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Shadowplay (Joy Division cover)
Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley cover)
For Reasons Unknown
From here on Out
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
All These Things That I've Done
A Matter of Time
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine