Watching The Killers, the latest and greatest of Vegas' rock
hopefuls, you can almost see the split in lead singer Brandon
Flowers' heart mending before your eyes. Perhaps he has been
betrayed by love in the past--a subject that has become the
foundation for his best songs--but the throng of women vying for his
attention at the front of the stage promises him new love (and
perhaps new heartbreak).
So goes life on the cusp of rock 'n' roll superstardom.
During the past year, The Killers have evolved into stage whizzes,
fusing Flowers' glitzy synth, Dave Keuning's playful guitar, Mark
Stoermer's trashy bass and Ronnie Vanucci's kinetic drums into a new
wave riot. And they couldn't have been in better form than they were
on Sunday at Tramps. Tearing through a 10-song set that included the
hip-shaking "On Top," the downcast "Smile Like You Mean It" and the
infectious ode to doomed optimism "Mr. Brightside," The Killers
delighted the packed house from start to finish. Particularly
impressive was Flowers, who, upon realizing that the microphone at
his keyboard wasn't working, grabbed the front-stage mic and played
the keys with one hand. No bitching about the equipment, no rock
star tantrums--Flowers jumped and wailed like all was right with the
world, and as far as the crowd was concerned, it was.
In the press, The Killers have been likened to many bands--Interpol,
T. Rex, the Psychedelic Furs and Duran Duran among them. At times,
they've also been derided as knockoffs and been accused of riding
the retro bandwagon to rock 'n' roll gold (they just signed a
lucrative, multi-album deal with Island Def Jam Records). But after
seeing The Killers live, this critique falls on deaf ears. If
churning out tight grooves and catchy hooks is derivative, then
bring on the copycats. No matter what any sulky critic might say,
music doesn't have to be revolutionary to be good. If it makes you
want to get up and shake your ass, it does the job just fine.
And now, on the strength of a wicked U.K. buzz and the brilliant
"Mr. Brightside," The Killers look poised to become the darling of
an American public bored by the Julian Casablancas garage-rock army.
Hopefully, unlike Flowers' past relationships, this love affair will