Review: Viva Killers in Nash Vegas* - U2 Feedback

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Old 04-25-2007, 01:37 PM   #1
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Review: Viva Killers in Nash Vegas*

By Andy Smith, Contributing Editor

“Don’t give the ghost up just clench your fist
You should have known by now you were on my list”

—“My List” by the Killers

Killers frontman Brandon Flowers put Nashville on his list for a magical Monday night show at the historic Ryman Auditorium. To a few thousand Tennesseans (and some who had traveled from around the region), the boys from Las Vegas seemed right at home, embracing the churchy kitsch and consumer corniness of the city to tune right in to the spiritual channel of the homeland we know as Nash Vegas.

When the tour in support of “Sam’s Town” first hit the road last autumn, the band was still finding its intimate groove and full-bodied flow. The Killers today exude even more than before, a flamboyant craft and renewed confidence to justify all the media chatter.

What a difference a winter tour of Europe must have made for the Killers’ killer mojo, for the overall mood of this band. Even though the current record and tour are all about roots and reckoning with a connection to this continent, somehow, if the reception of fickle rock writers is any indication, the folks overseas merged with that mood of “American masquerade” much more than the perennial skeptics here.

To distract us on the first American leg, Flowers battled health problems, even canceling some shows. Meanwhile, the fans fought for tickets to club shows and waded through the critical backlash growing like weeds on the roadside in the land of the free ride. For this writer, catching one of those dates was a bit like getting a cool drink of water while rambling through the parched backdrop of one of those famous desert Anton Corbijn photo shoots. After quenching my thirst with such a strong showing in Philadelphia in December, I had no idea what awaited me when the band returned to fill theaters and small arenas in the spring.

(Photo credit: Torey Mundkowsky for

When my last show ended, I couldn’t help but wonder why it wasn’t longer, craving more Killers than 70 minutes and a short encore. But by late Monday, the band’s relentless showmanship left us fully sated. Packaged like a sandwich by the surreal and serene “Enterlude” and “Exitlude,” the 90-minute set included every song from “Sam’s Town” except for “Why Do I Keep Counting,” the first seven songs from “Hot Fuss,” and an intoxicatingly intense Joy Division cover called “Shadowplay.”

Since the popular and populist refrains of “When You Were Young” had the whole hall swaying, smiling, and singing along with such energy early in the set, it was hard to imagine any band sustaining such a stunning stage presence for an entire show. But Flowers’ boundless Bono-meets-Peter Pan prancing pushes past its inherent pretensions, with him at home behind the piano or perched on the monitors, making his sweeping rock star gestures into the hearts and heads of everyone in attendance. While some artists prefer the tight-knit small-is-beautiful vibe of bars, even those mid-size clubs are too claustrophobic for a band like the Killers who see no limits to their own limitless potential.

As the splendid set traded tracks between the open-air hymnal “Sam’s Town” and the jumpy dance-rock of “Hot Fuss,” the band didn’t miss a lick. Newer songs like “Bones,” “Bling,” “This River is Wild,” “Read My Mind,” and “Uncle Jonny” all lend themselves to the thunder and lightning of live delivery. And “Hot Fuss” hits like “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” were guaranteed crowd-pleasers. The extended encore began with a mellow yet manic “My List,” sizzled through the Joy Division cover, rocked into a riveting “For Reasons Unknown,” and then lit up the room with an always anthemic “All These Things That I’ve Done.”

(Photo credit: Torey Mundkowsky for

Afterwards, an exhausted and ecstatic crowd began to amble into the aisles. But the house lights stayed down. Soon, the band was back for one more bow, a beatific “Exitlude,” and finally, a brief and bursting refrain of “When You Were Young” that shook the rafters. At that point, the dancing that began with the sweetly surprising opening act the Silver Beats (a Tokyo-based Beatles tribute band) continued into the downtown Nashville streets.

On the record, “Sam’s Town” unapologetically pays tribute to its Boss and Bono influences. By owning its ancestry honestly and then going forward on rock’s mythic highway, the band is better able to push past hype and heritage to explore new musical landscapes. Certainly, the more pavement this tour puts behind it, the clearer it becomes that this hard-working band is willing to pay its dues. The more gigs they play, the more the Killers come into their own as a great rock band for any era.

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Old 04-27-2007, 12:51 PM   #2
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Great review, Andy. I was there too, and there really was great energy. Lots of fun.

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Old 04-28-2007, 02:48 AM   #3
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This is the BEST article I've read describing the aura and the presence of The Killers, who I've been lucky enough to see 6 times since Autumn. I can't speak highly enough about not only their records, but most especially their live shows!!!!!

A must see for ANY U2 fan, and if I may say of all the bands that have come and gone and will continue to come and go...the only band that deserves the title of The Next U2!

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