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Baptism by rock: The Killers open the new Joint

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The Killers: Vegas’ own rock icons.
Submitted photo

The Hard Rock needed a big band and a huge show to open the new Joint last night and that’s just what they got.

The Killers didn’t just open the new venue, however; as the group’s ever-modest frontman, Brandon Flowers, put it, they blew the roof right off of it.

Flowers and Co. played a high-energy 90-minute set that featured 19 songs from their repertoire of post-punk, alt-rock nouveau.

The performance didn’t just mark the arrival of the city’s newest concert hall. It also marked the arrival of the city’s biggest rock band.

Granted, the group already has three successful studio albums under their belt and legions of loyal fans, but being selected to open the Hard Rock Hotel’s pride and joy – in front of a full house and on the eve of their Coachella headlining debut, no less – suggests the hometown boys have arrived at a higher destination.

Five years after the band’s conception, Flowers, along with guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer, and percussionist Ronnie Vannucci Jr., have withstood the test of time, scandal, harsh critics and the dreaded sophomore jinx to achieve bonafide rock star status.

As the group stepped onto the stage just after 9:15 p.m. last night, they were greeted by an audience that resembled a nighttime cityscape: dozens of tiny cell phone and digital camera displays, all glowing in the darkness. The scene was almost magical.

“Why hello, Las Vegas!” Flowers said. Dressed in a military-inspired black blazer with sequins shoulders and cuffs, the frontman looked every bit the part.

Without further ado, he and his bandmates quickly launched into the first of song of the night, “Spaceman.”

Three songs into his set, Flowers was warmed up and ready to rock. He lost the fashionable jacket, and prefaced “Somebody Told Me” by warning, “This one’s a real rattlesnake.”

He worked the stage reasonably well, pacing back and forth between Keuning and Stoermer’s positions at either side of the stage. As he danced, sang and otherwise went about his business, he often waved his hands with the music, as if he was a classical conductor.

The singer exercised a range of rockstar antics, frequently jumping on top the monitors and dramatically dropping down to his knees, mid-wail.

After half a dozen songs, he couldn’t help but ask, “Is it too early to say how awesome this is?”

He told how the band had been inspired by a lot of bands who played the old Joint and said opening the new venue was a big thrill for all of them.

Aside from that, and brief introductions to “I Can't Stay” and “Sam’s Town,” however, Flowers said very little while onstage. The band played song after song with very few pauses in between, beyond the few minutes that separated the main set from the three-song encore that followed.

The volume got louder and louder as the concert progressed, eventually leading to Flowers’ vocals being all but drowned out toward the end.

The singer often covered his ear in attempt to hear his monitor, but his efforts proved futile, as the levels appeared to be beyond repair.

Few in the crowd seemed to notice, however, and those who did didn’t seem to care.

The night closed with a searing, pyrotechnic-enhanced rendition of “When You Were Young.”

After that, Flowers and his fellow black-clad bandmates bid the crowd adieu. “Thank you!” he said. “Goodnight!”

And with that, the new Joint’s baptism came to a close. The house lights came on, the crowd left its recently broken-in seats and everyone filed out into the casino.

Avenge Sevenfold will play the venue tonight, while Paul McCarney will close opening weekend at the new Joint with a sold-out performance on Sunday night. The Killers, meanwhile, headline at Coachella this evening.

Complete set list

1. Spaceman

2. This is Your Life

3. Somebody Told Me

4. For Reasons Unknown

5. I Can't Stay

6. Joyride

7. Bling (Confession Of A King)

8. Shadowplay

9. Losing Touch

10. Smile Like You Mean It

11. Human

12. A Dustland Fairytale

13. Sam’s Town

14. Read My Mind

15. Mr. Crosseyed

16. All These Things That I've Done

*encore*

17. Bones

18. Midnight Show

19. When You Were Young

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Melissa Arseniuk

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