Minutes before the Killers took the stage last night at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, an anxious crowd roared as a roadie revealed Brandon Flowers' signature lightening bolt microphone stand from beneath a bright red tarp. And the Killers didn't waste any time engaging the crowd by opening with their 2004 hit "Mr. Brightside".
A simple backdrop of a freeway draped quickly dropped to reveal a giant silver badge reading "Battle Born Nevada." It was as if they wanted to celebrate our city instead of hide it, while still throwing up their Vegas stamp on the downtown Cleveland skyline.
Fresh off their headlining appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago last Friday, the Killers delivered an electricity-fueled two hour performance. The guys performed a wide selection of songs, including "Spaceman," "Change Your Mind," "Smile Like You Mean It," "Human," "Read My Mind," "A Dustland Fairytale" and "Runaway". From the blue/purple glow of the stage, Flowers yelled, "And I'm calling out from the heart of Ohio tonight!" as he led everyone into a sing-a-long of "The Way It Was."
The first major moment was during their newest hit "Miss Atomic Bomb"; flames surged behind the band as Flowers waved his arm around like a maestro conducting an orchestral masterpiece, and we were his instruments. During "Somebody Told Me," it was apparent Flowers has developed into an even more magnetic presence since the Hot Fuss tour; he's confident to be up on stage and relishing the cheers of the crowd while owning his reign in the spotlight.
The two cover songs performed were "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tommy and the Shondells (also once made famous by '80s mall star Tiffany) and "Go All The Way" by the Raspberries, which Flowers told the crowd Tim Burton asked them to contribute to the Dark Shadows soundtrack. He also said they have been trying to do a little something customized for each city on the tour, and Raspberries' lead singer Eric Carmen is from Cleveland.
Later in the show, Flowers said that drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr.'s father is also from Cleveland, and that he was there in the audience last night. The animated drummer then pounded on the drums for an incredible drum solo as they transitioned into "From Here On Out." The biggest sing-a-long was during the anthem "All These Things I've Done"; confetti guns went off and everyone chanted "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier." The confetti was made of silver lightening bolts and big red "K"s.
Flowers proudly told the crowd, "We come from the jewel of the Mojave desert." The Killers are Vegas. The showmanship, the spectacle, the drama. You even felt like you'd won a jackpot when the confetti exploded. And you had. You had won a trip to fabulous Las Vegas and you didn't even have to leave your hometown to get there.
They began the encore with "Flesh and Bone." Flowers shook his fists at his sides like he just didn't know what to do with all of that kinetic energy. For such a compact man, his impact is mountain-sized. Before the final song, Flowers asked the crowd, "What more could we possibly have to offer you?" and then delivered fan favorite "When You Were Young."
The Killers aren't your typical apathetic rock stars. Instead, they have come to lift you up, to make you feel something. Their show goes deeper than glitz and pyrotechnics. There is real heart, positivity, and hope. You can see it in each band member, and it flows through the venue each moment Flowers flashes his neon white smile. As Flowers left the stage, he turned once last time to give an exaggerated, gentlemanly bow.