SALT LAKE CITY — Brandon Flowers, frontman for the rock band The Killers and current Park City resident, told the near-capacity crowd Tuesday night that he had always dreamed of playing in Salt Lake City’s 20,000-seat Vivint Arena when he was a boy living in Nephi. But back then, he knew the venue as the Delta Center and imagined taking the floor as an NBA player, hoping to be just like the Utah Jazz’s formidable power forward Karl Malone one day.
“But as you can see, my genetics had other plans for me. I didn’t quite get there,” Flowers said, laughing during The Killers’ Salt Lake show. “But if this is the other option,” he continued, “I’ll take it.”
It’s been over five years since The Killers last performed in Utah, then at the 8,500-seat UCCU Event Center in November 2012. In the middle of a rigorous tour for their latest album “Wonderful Wonderful,” which hit No. 1 on Billboard in September 2017, the band has a two-week break scheduled following their Salt Lake show before picking up their next performance in Oslo, Norway, on Feb. 23.
But despite the long hiatus from performing live, The Killers haven’t lost their touch.
Beginning with their newest repertoire, the rock band led with “Wonderful Wonderful” on Tuesday night, wisely taking advantage of the instrumental prelude to introduce Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci to the stage. Warm yellow lighting put the band members in silhouette as Flowers sang “keep your ear to the shell” while maneuvering across the stage with clean, sharp movements that had a choreographed air about them.
Lightening the mood, The Killers then opted for their most recent single “The Man.” With neon lights as a backdrop and a surprise dousing of confetti, the number had a loose Las Vegas feel to it before the band tackled crowd favorites “Somebody Told Me” from their debut album “Hot Fuss,” “Spaceman” from “Day and Age” and “The Way it Was” from “Battleborn.”
Slipping in “Run for Cover” from “Wonderful Wonderful,” Flowers then used one of his favorite quotes as a segue into “I Can’t Stay”:
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man,” he told the arena, quoting Ernest Hemingway. “True nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Returning once more to The Killers’ first two albums, the band stuck to some of their more upbeat tempos with “Smile Like You Mean It” and “For Reasons Unknown.” Bassist Jake Blanton, filling in for original band member Mark Stoermer, who is taking a break, perfectly executed Stoermer's famous solo in “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.” The following two numbers, “Rut” and “Tyson vs. Douglas,” wrapped up the songs from “Wonderful Wonderful” for the night, followed closely by “Human” from “Day and Age.”
The show was somewhat taxing for Flowers, who admitted partway through the concert that he was battling the flu. Despite being under the weather, though, Flowers played hard for his home state and provided context for some of the numbers he performed, including how his Nephi boyhood inspired the creation of “This River is Wild.”
Playing to his home crowd, Flowers invited a member of the audience from Kaysville onstage to play keyboard on “A Dustland Fairytale,” and throughout the night, Flowers regularly encouraged the audience to sing with him.
Following a performance of “Runaways,” Ted Sablay also played original guitarist and backup vocalist Dave Keuning’s usual solo in “Read My Mind.” As with Stoermer, Keuning, who has been with The Killers since their beginning in 2001, chose not to join the band on tour for "Wonderful Wonderful."
After the band's classic finale of “All These Things That I’ve Done,” Flowers took the stage once more in full Las Vegas mode, wearing a metallic gold suit for an encore. Singing a cover of “Push” by The Cure to commemorate the first concert Flowers attended as a teenager (which was also held at Vivint Arena), The Killers wrapped up a stellar night with two of their most popular and hard rock hits “When You Were Young” and “Mr. Brightside.”
It was a night of old and new hits, proving once more that when it comes to performing, The Killers live up to their name.