The Killers Bring Vegas to the Northrop

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Photos courtesy of Press Here Publicity

The Killers brought some Mojave Desert flavor to throngs of barely-thawed fans at the Northrop Auditorium Tuesday night. The group solidified its status as one of this millenniums most reliable mainstream acts, while demonstrating that their musical hand doesn't fit snugly into any glove.

Seemingly glad to be there, Brandon Flowers and company filled the Northrop stage with palm trees, cacti, a gazillion colored lights, and a whole lot of spark. That this was only the second night of their new Day and Age tour showed only in the degree to which the band seemed indefatigable; technically, the night was flawless. The Killers opened strong with "Spaceman," one of their latest effort's standout tracks. Flowers appeared young in his signature black jeans and feathered jacket as he mimed flight across the stage.


The stage layout featured each member prominently (save for the touring multi-instrumentalist and backup vocalist who literally hid behind a wall of lights), including drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr., whose long dark hair was forever blown vertically by an in-floor fan a la Michael Jackson.

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The spirit of David Bowie was definitely in the house as The Killers kicked into "Losing Touch," Day and Age's sax-sporting opening number. But just when you think you've nailed down a musical influence, they move on. They seem to have absorbed the essences of the past few decades' icons and somehow come up with something honest. Flowers is Robert Smith, Dave Gahan, and Springsteen. He's Ric Ocasek and a little bit Bono. But at the same time, he isn't, and that's ok.

The band worked the crowd over with cuts from their debut album Hot Fuss, including "Smile Like You Mean It" and "Somebody Told Me," the latter giving the crowd its first fit of the evening. At one point somebody threw what appeared to be a black bra onto the stage.

Numbers like "This is Your Life" and "Joyride" proved that while the Killers sound may have evolved, the cuts on their new record stand tall beside anything they've ever done. Their musical ethos of writing soulful verses, soaring choruses, memorable bridges, and sharp lyrics with broad undertones makes their songs at once personal and universal. It is a recipe for anthems, and the strained voices of the audience belted them out in rapid succession.

"Exoneration lost his eraser/but my forgiver found the sun," sang Flowers during "I Can't Stay." As was the case the entire night, synths, guitars, and drums weaved in and out, but every syllable was clearly decipherable. The band continued to smile, seemingly unconcerned with sticking only to the hits. Fists arose en masse on the refrain to "Bling (Confession of a King)," urging the crowd "higher and higher").

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Audience favorites "Human," "Mr. Brightside," and "All These Things That I've Done" had the audience simply frothing, the latter ending in an explosion of white confetti. The band departed to a standing ovation before returning for a romp through "A Dustland Fairy Tale," the Depeche Mode gloom of "Shadowplay," the sinister "Jenny Was A Friend of Mine" and the knock-down-drag-out riffage of "When You Were Young," which peeked with a shower of sparks straight out of "Livin' On A Prayer."

The audience Tuesday night wasn't your stereotypical doom-and-gloom rockers or sullen shoegazers; they lacked the chipped shoulders of scenesters and the plastic smiles of American Idols. Instead, they pretty much just were, which is probably why The Killers won them over.
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