“I would kind of skim through and look at the influences that they had, you know… if it was Megadeath, nothing against Megadeath, it just wasn’t gonna be the guy that I was gonna call…” As per tradition, The Killers front man Brandon Flowers reminisces about the fortuitous twist of fate in his life which lead to his musical partnership with guitarist Dave Keuning in the City Life section of their local Las Vegas Weekly more than a decade ago, though I’m not really sure if it is a tradition for the benefit of the audience or his own grounding in life. Regardless, the audience in the second and final night of the sold out show at the 4,000 capacity Chelsea Ballroom at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas were treated to an amazing show by the home town band that reimagined an 80s New Wave sound over a decade ago with great success. Maybe his now traditional on stage retelling of the anecdote is more out of tribute to the happenstance from which this music and their careers were born rather than being insightful, as the crowd was heavy with hardcore, long-time fans of the band, who traveled for this show from all over the U.S., and even overseas to see what was for me, and some I talked with after the show, the best show that the band has put on… a really great night with a perfect mix of old and new material that pushed the show well into the next day on this special New Year’s Eve weekend.
Who: The Killers
Supporting: Louis XIV
Supporting: Most Thieves
Venue: Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in The Chelsea Ballroom
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: December 29, 2012
Seating: VIP General Admission Standing (Front Row Left of Middle)
Funny enough, I just saw The Killers three weeks ago headlining Night 2 of Live 105’s special “Not So Silent Night” series in Oakland, California. The latter was not announced until well after I’d already bought tickets for this Vegas excursion, though it ended up being quite interesting to compare and contrast the two shows (spoiler: last night’s show was superior in every way imaginable, and according to one friend who was at both back-to-back shows here in Vegas, the second night was the superior show comparing those as well).
It seemed to be a special show for the band as well, as there was the largest contingent of what I assumed were friends and family seated side stage in support and celebration of The Killers and their music.
As an aside, 2013 seems to be a transitional year for concerts and different, let’s say experiments by ticket sellers and bands and their management, with all variety of tiered pricing and packaging and early entry options. Sometimes it can be a good thing, and other times it can be very frustrating for fans; additionally, things that may sound good in the abstract don’t always work well in practice. Case in point, with this show, I had joined The Killers fan club (which was relatively costly) in order to get a pre-sale code to buy a GA ticket for the general admission show many months ago.
Fast forward to the night before this show, when the first of two concerts was in progress… I had some friends in attendance and quizzed them about timing for lining up early to get the best spot possible inside and the venue’s procedures and what not, and long story short, found out that there was a “VIP GA” ticket sold… which was never offered to those of us who participated in the fan club pre-sale. Such ticket holders were let into the venue prior to “regular” GA ticket holders, regardless of when those people showed up.
I checked Ticketmaster that night, and found that these special tickets were again made available just the night before the show (another friend had checked a day earlier and no tickets at all were available). Since the fan club ticket I bought was will call only, I had no opportunity to even try to resell it… but making the trip, I really wanted to be up front, so I ended up buying one of the “VIP GA” tickets, which further added to the cost for this show (which is worth it to me, but at the same time, I couldn’t even give away my spare ticket the night of the show after picking it up from will call).
None of this is unique to the ticket vendor, artist, or venue, but these kinds of things seem to be a trend on the rise, and it would be nice if those on the other side of the equation would make things a little more equitable on the front end, as I think that would mitigate some unnecessary confusion and frustration for all involved. Also, it is kind of funny that one of the two selling points for these special tickets was open bar for the time period prior to The Killers taking the stage, when the fan objective is to get up close for the show and are then generally stuck in that spot until the end of the gig, so can consequently never take advantage of that side benefit to early entry. One really funny side note to all of this… the security contract out for this show were fantastic, and really respected the work fans go through to get up front – one of them pledged to use on the front rail that if we needed to go and come back, he would personally make sure that we would not lose our spot! That was a concert-going first for me (though I did not take him up on it).
Apologies for the digression, but I think the industry has some room to improve on these kinds of initiatives to increase the bottom line, as the fans are the ones feeding it. But I’m all for new ideas and such, but sometimes implementation can be unnecessarily challenging, and whatever happens, I am a big proponent of true and dedicated fans having an opportunity to be up front whenever possible – it just makes sense and makes for a a better show.
In any event, I showed up early for this show in hopes of getting to the front row, so I arrived at The Cosmopolitan at around 4:00. The Chelsea Ballroom is on the fourth floor of one of the towers, though they had blocked access to it at that time, so there were maybe 100 or so fans congregating in a large open room on the third floor, and were not organized into any kind of line at that time.
At one point, there was a misunderstanding about being allowed access upstairs, and were told that was incorrect, and a “line” about a dozen people wide and very long kind of materialized near the hallway to the escalator… about 5:00 we were allowed upstairs, which was kind of a mad dash mess, with more confusion upstairs, as some people lined up on one side, and much more than half on another, into a regular GA line and a VIP GA line… and that was pretty much a mess as well. Eventually the smaller line was instructed to merge with the bigger line, which I know was frustrating for many in both lines.
The Killers is just one of those bands that has a very dedicated fan base, so at GA shows such as this, it’s really difficult for any kind of equitable system to prevail in which people get into the venue based on how long that they camp out for in advance of doors, and luck (and lack thereof) is a huge factor.
Aside from all of that, I did enjoy chatting with other fans, many of whom I talked with traveled from all over – from California, Texas, and New York to England and Peru. Some had been at the show the night before as well, and made it a Killers weekend.
Eventually, we were moved to another line-up area, and sometime later, into the venue. Kudos to the security staff overall, as once we got to that point, they all did a really stellar job keeping this fair, organized, and safe from the point at which we were eventually led into the venue. Really nice people as well.
The “VIP GA” ticket ultimately paid off for me, as I made it to the front row, just to the left of the “lightening bolt” keyboard that was eventually placed onto the stage for The Killers set closing out the show.
It ended up being a great (and long) night of music, as there were two opening acts as well…
Much respect to The Killers for even having supporting bands for this show, as it would have sold out either way, but it illustrates that the group has a sincere interesting in supporting others in the industry and helping them build careers of their own. Going back to my opening, I just really get the sense that The Killers have tremendous gratitude for having an opportunity to create music and don’t want to let go of that sense of appreciation, and want to maybe be a force in helping other artists to realize the same dream.
NOTE: Throughout the article, click on any image for higher resolution photos…
- Eric Koch (vocals)
- Bobby Lee Parker (guitar)
- Trevor Hurley (bass guitar)
- Eric Rickey (keyboards)
- Rob Whited (drums)
I was unfamiliar with this band before the show, but they are a Las Vegas band who release their first album, Unnecessary Maps, back in August.
The band apparently has a very close relationship with The Killers – having done sound tech for the band and then later being offered a supporting slot; and a few of the tracks on their self-published album feature Killers bassist Mark Stoermer.
For a new band, they put on a very impressive set last night, and many of the fans of The Killers seemed to be familiar with their songs.
You can learn more about the band and preview some of their songs at their official site, www.mostthieves.com.
Below are some photos of Most Thieves performing on stage:
- Jason Hill (vocals, guitar)
- Brian Karscig (guitar)
- Mark Maigaard (drums)
- James Armbrust (bass guitar)
Louis XIV is actually a band that broke up in 2009… so these dates the past two nights were the first time that the band has played together in about four years.
Formed in San Diego, they released a number of EPs and three studio albums between 2003 and 2009 (they toured with The Killers in the past as well).
You wouldn’t really know this from watching their set, as they played with a lot of energy and really got the crowd energized for The Killers.
Below are some photos of Louis XIV performing on stage (including a very special guest for one song):
- Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards)
- Dave Keuning (guitar, vocals)
- Mark Stoermer (bass, vocals)
- Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. (drums, percussion)
Below is a photo of Brandon Flowers’ set list:
- Sam’s Town
- When You Were Young
- Somebody Told Me
- The Way It Was
- Smile Like You Mean it
- Bling (Confession of a King)
- Shadowplay (cover – Joy Division)
- Viva Las Vegas (cover – Elvis)
- For Reasons Unknown
- A Dustland Fairytale
- Read My Mind
- All These Things That I’ve Done
- A Matter of Time
- Jenny Was A Friend of Mine
- Mr. Brightside
This was a completely different set from the show in Oakland weeks ago… (and even the show just the night before) not just a different order, but many different song selections, and just from that standpoint, performance aside, found it to be a much better mix and order.
As recounted in my review of the show a few weeks ago, The Killers are a Las Vegas band that formed in 2001. Their first hit album, Hot Fuss (released in 2004), was a contemporary take on 80s-style sound, and was popular with people in my generation who grew up following New Wave and Modern Rock artists.
The band has been fairly prolific, with four studio albums, including the latest released this year, Battle Born. Front man Brandon Flowers also released and toured his own material with 2010’s Flamingo.
I was a huge fan of the first album and count “All These Things That I’ve Done” among my all-time favorite songs. Brilliant.
For me personally, nothing that has come after Hot Fuss, as a whole, has matched that debut album.
Having said that, the latest, Battle Born, is my favorite album after Hut Fuss. “Runaways” is a great song. Overall, it is a much more enjoyable, pop-oriented and consistent work, rather than I think the more “art” approach that I took away from the two middle albums. So I’d really recommend fans of the first album checking out the latest one if you haven’t already. You can learn more about the album on their special sister site, battleborn.fm.
As alluded to in my opening, this was a much, much better show than the one a few weeks ago, truly in every way. Although, in addition, it helped that I had a better vantage point up front.
Fundamentally, and on a technical level, the sound was spectacular last night, while I found the sound at the Oakland show to be significantly bass/LF heavy and distorted – it really hurt the show last time around, as The Killers have music that really calls for a clean sound with the full range found in the studio recordings.
So even if the show was otherwise the same, it would have been many, many times better. But it was just really superior in about every way as well.
The band seemed to be very elated with this show, and probably enjoy playing in their hometown as well (regardless of how many people in attendance were not native to the area).
As a fan of music, I always try to see bands in their hometowns whenever it is feasible for me, so that was a key motivating factor for me in deciding to go to one of these shows, and I’m very glad that I did.
Brandon Flowers always strikes me as someone with a deep desire to front a rock band, but at the same time maybe has some insecurities with this as well (even with his fluttery sort of vocal style maybe subconsciously supporting this feeling I get). But with this show, he seemed a bit more self-assured than usual and appeared to have a great time commanding the stage; though he has, let’s say, a limited number of what some may call “rock star moves”, he more than makes up for it with enthusiasm and feeding off the crowd and reflecting some of that back. He was really animated last night, running and pacing back and forth across the stage and posing atop monitors, engaging the fans front and back.
Since I was a bit left of center mic and the “lightening bolt”, I had a chance to see Dave Keuning at work, and he’s one of those guitarists that make it all look so effortless; in contrast to Brandon Flowers, he dispenses with the bravado and simply dishes out the familiar riffs with little fanfare.
Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. is one of my favorite drummers to watch, as he really pounds it out, but unfortunately much of my view was obscured by the aforementioned lightening bolt. On the other side of the stage, bassist Mark Stoermer is one of those bass players who isn’t lost in the mix – as bass, for me, has a much more central role in their music.
All in all, it was a really fantastic show, and I’m so glad I made the trip and made the effort to do all I could to get up front for this show, as it’s a really amazing experience to be part of a show like this from the best possible vantage point. Definitely contributes to an amazing year for concerts for me.
Below are a few videos shot with my pocket camera during the show, to give a sense of the stage set up and performance and energy from the band and crowd…
“When You Were Young”:
“Somebody Told Me”:
“All These Things That I’ve Done”:
Below are some photos taken before, during, and after the show (click on any image for higher resolution images):