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The Killers Come Home

L-A-S V-E-G-A-S. T-H-E K-I-L-L-E-R-S. Last night these two things spelled the exact same thing as the Killers made their way back to Sam’s Town to reign as Vegas’ hometown heroes of the moment. Master of ceremonies Brandon Flowers, aka Mr. Vegas, directed the flow and feeling of the set like a conductor, his smooth arm movements accompanying each breakdown and build-up that impregnate almost every Killers song. Even better, his generally chipper demeanor belied his recent reputation as the nouveau Tupac Shakur of shit-talking. The band pulls it all together with each band member showcasing his rock’n’roll essence via visages akin to celebrity impersonators on the Vegas Strip: a young Tom Petty on bass, de-LSD’d Jim Morrison on guitar, and a live-and-well Jon Bonham still smashing away on the drums (and a very large gong at one point).

Tracks from Sam’s Town, the band’s recently released tribute to the city where they earned their chops, blared freely and electric in the area code they were truly meant to be heard. After dispensing two of their biggest singles, “When You Were Young” and “Somebody Told Me,” right off the bat, rock’n’roll’s newest demi-gods left the rest of their set tantalizingly open-ended. No disappointment was visible, from the ugly duckling twelve-year-old girls yet to discover their rhythm to the more senior audience members from Vegas who shouted out their high school alma maters at the band between songs in hopes that a Killer might recognize them from fifth-period chemistry class.

Playing the bulk of both their albums, the whole experience reached TRL levels of excitement, forcing even the most cynical of rock journalists to proclaim aloud that they themselves also had soul but were not soldiers — and they sang right along with the Pepsi drinking dude in a werewolf costume standing in front of them. AUSTIN PLUMB / PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLAWSON