About two decades ago, I received a package of new music at the office. I was at a different publication in those days, working as the A&E editor. This mailer was a CD from a Las Vegas band that was taking off from its modest beginnings at Café Espresso Roma, Tinoco’s Bistro and Huntridge Theatre.
I remember being impressed at The Killers’ “Hot Fuss,” initially, because it had two songs I felt could be anthems. “Somebody Told Me,” was one. “On Top,” with this slick synth intro was the other.
“Fourth song is a hit,” I called across the room, referring to “Somebody Told Me.” And I couldn’t get enough of “On Top,” either.
I recently told Brandon Flowers about my early review, when the band was rehearsing for their appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” at Zappos Theater four years ago. He laughed and said, “Not ‘Brightside?’ Way off.” Reference to “Mr. Brightside,” which is the enduring classic from “Hot Fuss.”
Wrong about the songs, but right about the band becoming something special. The Killers returned to their hometown (no disrespect to Nephi) over the weekend, wiping out Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The shows were to get the band ready for their upcoming world tour, kicking off April 27 in Monterrey, Mexico, and winding up Dec. 19 in Sydney, Australia. They play T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 26.
We caught the Saturday show, and the boys have matured since their Huntridge days. Flowers stalked the stage, backed by original members Ronnie Vannucci, the ever-present, thundering drummer; and guitarist Dave Keuning. Filling out the roster were bassist Jake Blanton (who is in the band when Mark Stoermer is not), guitarist Ted Sablay and touring keyboardist Robbie Connolly.
The band roared through songs from its deep past and through their most recent two albums, “Imploding the Mirage” and “Pressure Machine.” Highlights included “Human,” from 2008s “Day & Age”” and “The Man,” from the 2017 “Wonderful Wonderful,” the video for which was filmed at the Plaza. The backing scenes included the neon signs of Fremont Street twisting as if in a hallucination. The statue of David was shown in the video montage during “The Man.”
Flowers played a keyboard behind an infinity-symbol stand, which replaced the illuminated “K” from previous shows. Time is not so important to the band, but holding tight to their roots is, as Flowers announced, “Brought to you by way of Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, we’re The Killers!”
The crowd continually jumped on the Chelsea’s spring-loaded floor, causing the room to bounce. If this show were a flight, the fasten-seatbelt sign would have been on, all the way.
At one point, Flowers recalled his days as a bellman at Gold Coast. He told a story of when a guy intentionally slammed into the back of his 1992 Geo Metro, because Flowers had splashed his car with fluid after turning on his windshield wipers. We’ll take it as the band’s first hit, an early demonstration of hot fuss, and a story that plays well in Vegas.
Gospel it out
Gospel Brunch returned to House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, two seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. We took in the early show, the first Gospel Brunch in more than two years at the music hall. We met the front woman of the band and choir, Patti Pennington. She is a wonderful vocalist who survived both COVID and a stroke since the show was sidelined.
Pennington’s gratitude is evident in her joyous performance, as she says, “I couldn’t’ talk, I couldn’t’ walk but I am singing for you today!”
This show deserves a larger stage to promote its return, and by golly the NFL Draft is coming into town. Maybe the league will present the cast at Fountains of Bellagio, we tease aggressively.
What Works In Vegas
Hey, as we forecasted, Amy Saunders is rocking Fremont East with her “Mavericks” variety show at Cheapshot. The iconic magician Mac King of Excalibur, the longest-running current headliner on the Strip, sidled into the show last week. We hear he might, or will be, back in a few days. Also look for fab comic-actor John Di Domenico, and burlesque performer Michelle L’Amour to grace Saunders’ house of frivolity.
Yet more teasing
Look for a major Vegas headliner to announce a return to residency, in November. We are a fan, and we always dress accordingly.
Cool Hang Alert
Over the weekend Illuminarium at Area15 unveiled “Illuminarium After Dark,” a nightly nightlife experience for the 21-over set. Guests will be sent to alternative locations, such as the night markets of Tokyo, the floral gardens of France as painted by Georgia O’Keeffe, and also such atmospheric destinations as crystal caverns. Signature cocktails and bites from Lumin Cafè & Kitchen are also offered. The “After Dark” concept runs 8 p.m.-midnight Sundays through Thursdays, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Cost is $60 (all this technology is not cheap), which includes a cocktail. Go to Illuminarium.com/lasvegas/afterdark for details.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.