Brandon Flowers, frontman of alt-rock/synth-pop band The Killers, opened and closed Tuesday night’s concert at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City by noting that the band had originated from “fabulous Las Vegas.”
At many points in between, though, the singer reminded the adoring audience that he was a Utahn, too.
True, he relocated his family to Park City last year, but he also spent some of his formative years in the Beehive State.
“If you would have told me after my Jr. Jazz days that one day I would be playing in the Delta Center,” he said, drawing a raucous cheer for deliberately emphasizing the arena’s original name as he knew it back in the 1990s, “I would have thought I’d be the power forward taking over for Karl Malone.
“But my genetics failed me,” he added with a chuckle, “so this is the next-best thing.”
Later, in previewing the “Sam’s Town” track “This River Is Wild,” Flowers noted that its content was inspired by his youth here: “There is nothing wrong with the place I grew up, a little town called Nephi, Utah,” he said to more cheers. “But I busted my ass to make sure they could never send me back there. I had bigger things in mind.”
Meanwhile, he and the band delivered a big show, despite apparent illness. At one point early on, he curiously paraphrased the late stuntman extraordinaire Evel Knievel, saying, “People don’t pay to see a perfect landing, they pay to see the attempt,” though he later clarified: “I have the flu. I’m not trying to make excuses up here. I’m trying my hardest. I will not give up. I will not give up.”
After wrapping up a nearly two-hour set that was fun and entertaining, if not quite life-altering, it was clear, at least, that he’d lived up to his word.
Opening song • “Wonderful Wonderful.” The title track from the band’s fifth and latest studio album proved an intriguing start, with its sinister synth giving way to a transfixing guitar and bass line, followed by Flowers’ mysterious vocals all pulling in the near-sellout crowd instantaneously.
Highlight • A four-song stretch early in the set provided a near-perfect sequence. It began with “Wonderful Wonderful” disco-tinged lead single “The Man,” followed by the group’s first-ever hit, the gender-bending dance track “Somebody Told Me.” Flowers then improbably boasted, “We’re gonna pick things up a bit,” before delivering with “Spaceman.” The run closed off with a crowd sing-along to the “Battleborn” song “The Way It Was.”
Lowlight • Well, despite the band frequently swelling to nine people (Flowers, drummer Ronnie Vannucci, guitarists Ted Sablay and Taylor Milne, bassist Jake Blanton, multi-instrumentalist Robbie Connolly, and backup singers Amanda Brown, Erica Canales and Danielle Withers), the extra oomph that ought to have been apparent, given the added muscle, simply did not come through, a victim of The Viv’s acoustics. Further, the group’s usual four-song encore was reduced to three (with “The Calling” stopped short after a few seconds and “Midnight Show” omitted entirely, in favor of a cover of The Cure’s “Push”), apparently due to Flowers’ illness.
Crowd favorite • The main-set-closing pairing of “Read My Mind” and “All These Things That I’ve Done,” plus the encore-closing “When You Were Young” and “Mr. Brightside,” were all unsurprisingly enthusiastically received.
Quotable • During one song, Flowers was leading a crowd clap-along to the beat. Then, after glancing back at Vannucci and grinning, he warned the audience, “Don’t stop, or ‘The Nooch’ will get ya!” Vannucci himself delivered a few laughs as the last one off the stage at night’s end. First, he jokingly teased a political run with a test slogan: “Vannucci for president in 2020! It couldn’t be any worse!” Then, with his parting words, he begged a favor: “If you did not have a good time tonight, please … keep it to yourself. However, if you did somehow enjoy our little performance, please … tell all your friends.”
Somebody Told Me
The Way It Was
Run for Cover
I Can’t Stay
Smile Like You Mean It
For Reasons Unknown
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Tyson vs. Douglas
This River Is Wild
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
All These Things That I’ve Done
Push (The Cure cover)*
When You Were Young*
* — encore