Before the pandemic, The Killers’ future was in question. With their 2017 record, Wonderful, Wonderful, underwhelming fans and critics, and the exit of guitarist Dave Keuning, it seemed that the once giant indie-rock act was on its last legs.
But then came Imploding the Mirage, a majestic return to form that achieved Brandon Flowers’ dream of becoming a faithful continuation of Heartland Synth Rock giants Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and more.
By adding the War on Drugs’ producer Shawn Everett and embracing the best parts of their sound from their early career, they were able to create this vast new world and finally pay homage to those they worship.
Along with releasing a quick follow-up to Imploding the Mirage, with Pressure Machine, it seems the Killers have found a rejuvenation. Pressure Machine features founding guitarist Dave Keining and is a somber ode to their home state of Nevada. Their attempt at writing their own “Nebraska,” however successful that may or not have been, it was another exciting direction for the Vegas band.
Monday night, The Killers brought their “Imploding the Mirage” tour to PromoWest’s Pavilion at OVATION in Newport, Kentucky. The new venue is the continuation of several versatile indoor, outdoor stages. The year-round venue opened this summer with lots of exciting buzz around it. That buzz did not disappoint.
With a fantastic view of the Cincinnati Skyline, all new amenities, and the support of local businesses and vendors, the venue seems like a perfect home for some of the area’s biggest acts. From food offerings like Mikey’s Late Night Slice, Braxton Brewing on tap, and local lifestyle brands like the Wayward Winds selling their merch, it’s clear that Promowest has the community in mind as well.
The last time The Killers played Cincinnati was when they headlined Bunbury Music Festival in 2016. So it’s been some time since the band played to the dedicated Cincinnati fan base. However, fans filled the new venue with anticipation to see the revitalized Killers performing new and old hits alike.
By 9 pm, after a short stint of rain, The Killers emerged from backstage to one of their tunes off of Imploding the Mirage, a heartland synth first pounder, “Dying Breed.” For fans that may not have known the song, they sure got it as lead singer Brandon Flowers captured his ability to create an anthemic arena rock hook.
Followed up by fan favorites like “Spaceman,” “Human,” and “Read My Mind,” The Killers seemed to be flexing their live chops as they prepared to play the big stages of FireFly Fest and a European Stadium tour.
Fan’s were treated to a more intimate stage and show at OVATION. The venue was much smaller than what The Killers usually play, which made for an even more unique experience.
The highlights of the show came during songs like “All These Things That I’ve Done.” Where the anthemic, U2-esc, hit of 2004 sent fans into a bellowing sing-along. Right as the song met its peak, confetti and streamers shot out. The Killers put on an extravagant and exciting performance in proper Vegas form, even if fans could predict the setlist at times.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the show came when Dave Keuning rang in The Killers 2006 smash, “When You Were Young,” it once again felt like a youthful return to form for the band. Keuning, doing his best ode to the ’70s and 80’s guitar heroes that influenced his sound.
Coming back out for a three-song encore, The Killers gave fans exactly what they wanted. The “Stairway to Heaven,” for millennials, “Mr. Brightside.” The ringing arpeggiated guitar from Keuning, the uptempo hi-hat drums, and of course, “Coming out of my cage….”
The Killers, although maybe in many ways a legacy act at this point, seem to relish in that role. That doesn’t seem to bother the band anymore, and perhaps that’s why they’re now making some of the best music of their career.