“We were just having a conversation back stage – I’m not fucking with you – best Vegas show ever!” A sentiment expressed by Karen O, upon returning to the stage for the encore, leading out with “Zero”. I think many of the fans in attendance for the show were in agreement. Las Vegas seemed to be a well-suited city to host Yeah Yeah Yeahs Saturday night as they hit a handful of U.S. venues as well as headlining Coachella appearances supporting their fourth studio album, Mosquito, due out this week. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, fronted by Karen O, share much with Vegas… both exhibiting glitzy style, extroverted personality, edgy sensibility, and non-conformist attitudes. Atop the fourth floor of the Cosmopolitan, at their Boulevard Pool concert venue overlooking the Strip as well as other sights, such as the faux Eiffel Tower at the Paris resort, the band played through old and new material in the open air concert space, broadcast to the packed house as well as anyone down on the Strip who cared to watch on the giant video screen to the side of the stage. Blown up on the billboard-sized screen, Karen O put on his own waterworks show – taking large swigs of water and spitting it into the air – that rivaled anything that the stuffier Bellagio might offer with their famous water feature attraction outside of the hotel. Book ended by their two weekend Coachella appearances, I was thrilled to see the band do their thing away from the massive music festival, and based on the reaction of the audience at the Cosmo, I was not alone in those feelings.
This is probably the first and last concert in which I will have seen and heard two of my three all-time favorite songs performed live at the same show – New Order’s “Blue Monday”, and “How Soon Is Now?” by original guitarist and co-songwriter for The Smiths, Johnny Marr. If only Depeche Mode were on hand to play “Never Let Me Down Again”, I would have had all three. Obviously, the rare combination of Johnny Marr and New Order playing on the same bill made for an incredible night of music at The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Though they never shared the stage at the same time, it was a show that celebrated some of the most significant and influential players in music in the past three decades. Johnny Marr’s first solo record, The Messenger, came out earlier this year to great critical reception, and his set included a mix of the new work as well as a few songs from The Smiths, Electronic number, and one cover. New Order changed things up a bit since their tour last year, playing “World (The Price of Love)” live for the first time and closed out with an encore of three Joy Division songs.
“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.
GROUPLOVE is one of those bands that, I think, will take a bit of hindsight to figure out… maybe a decade from now, in that their talent, earnestness, and originality seems boundless. They are definitely doing their own thing, and in these somewhat darker times with people facing a lot of struggles and challenges, their unique and incredibly upbeat music is truly a breath of fresh, sweet air. While they appear quite Earthy and friendly in appearance, and those familiar with the hits they’ve generated that have gotten the most airplay and attention may expect them to be a bit more quiet and acoustic-driven, by the end of their hour and a half long set atop a rooftop along the Las Vegas strip, they were completely rocking The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan. Though only formed a couple of years ago, this band is going places, and it is definitely a journey on which their growing fans are happy to accompany them.