Last year, the Sands Bethlehem Event Center celebrated their first anniversary with two nights of Mötley Crüe performances. This year, to help celebrate the venue’s second anniversary, they brought the legendary Guns n’ Roses and The Killers.
These multiplatinum rockers have been putting out chart-topping records since 2004’s ‘Hot Fuss’ and subsequently released four additional albums which have all reached platinum statuses as well. This past November, the band released a greatest his collection, ‘Direct Hits.’ The band, who did a small tour the previous year, has only been doing a handful of shows in the US, Canada, The UK and one in France in support of ‘Direct Hits’ as well as try out some new material.
Tonight’s event SOLD OUT within a few days of going on sale. The 3,500 capacity room was filled from the barricades to walkway into the general admissions floor. Arriving before doors, the lines were already beginning to wrap around from the main entrance to the hotel entrance around the side. With eager concert goers waiting for the arrival of the night’s headliner there was another band that was set to satiate the hungry concert goers.
Opening the show was Joywave, an electro-pop 5-piece from Rochester, NY that had just recently released their new EP ‘How Do You Feel’ this past March. The group’s sound was reminiscent of late-80’s Depeches Mode but with a much more mellow tone. The tempo picked up on the band’s 4th song “Somebody New” and then finished up with the current single “Tongues”.
I wished the sound guy would’ve turned up the live instruments a tad bit more since what we mostly heard were the synths, drums and the frontman. As far as performance goes, they didn’t really move around much on stage. Nor really connected with the audience.
For a band I have never heard of, I enjoyed what I heard and was intrigued to learn more about them. Members of the band could be found signing autographs and talking to fans towards the end of the night by their merch booth.
Then, finally, it was time for The Killers to arrive. Before they took the stage, they were playing an instrumental rendition of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” which I thought was a cute nod to our old steel town. The first thing audiences noticed was the brightly lit LED changing lightning bolt in from of the keyboards. What surprised me and threw everyone else off was that their opening song “When You Were Young”, they performed with the house lights on at full. Not sure if it was intentional or an accident but none the less, the audience was in an uproar.
They followed up with “Spaceman” and in between, frontman Brandon Flowers shared with the audience that his father was born in PA and he was a little bit familiar with the area. They then rolled into “The Way It Was.” With a smile on his face, Flowers humbly said to the crowd “We took a little time off and was worried people would forget about us. But you guys proved us wrong.”
When Flowers mentioned that “Somebody Told Me” was over a decade old, it then you could tell everyone suddenly was in shock of realization that yes, it has indeed been over ten years since ‘Hot Fuss’ came out. For a brief second, I had a flashback to when the album first came out and how I would listen to it on repeat for days.
They followed up with a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover of “Bad Moon Rising” and then we get to witness the very few times Flowers was on bass for “For Reasons Unknown.”
With a ‘Springsteen’ swagger, Flowers quipped that “It’s a Thursday night but feels like a Saturday night. We’re out here at a killer show. Do you have you dancing shoes on?” which lead right into “From Here On Out”, one of the the band’s few twangy country-rock tunes.
Before ending the set (pre-encore) Brandon was telling the crowd a story about how back in the day, he would collaborate with guitarist Dave Keuning on a song for the longest time. It was heavily Lou Reed inspired with a little bit of David Bowie. That song ended up being “All These Things I’ve Done” (which Flowers eventually admitted the bass line was from Bowie’s “Slow Burn”.)
Several other highlights of the evening was “Human” which got a lot of the audience singing along to the chorus “Are we human? Or are We dancers?”, “Runaways” which was spectacular! You could literally feel every strum of the driving bass line and of course, the night’s closer “Mr. Brightside” which sounded phenomenal live and all you could see was a sea of smartphones trying to capture the moment.
Throughout the night, you could tell the band was genuinely having a great time at the Sands. The band kept interacting with the audience and sharing some intimate moments with them. Since the band was touring in support of ‘Direct Hits’ the majority of the set was a sort of “greatest hits” collection the band has released over the past decade. The lighting was phenomenal and the photographer in me kept fighting the urge to grab my camera from my car and rushing the stage to capture the beautifully lit stage. This was my first time seeing The Killers live and I must say, I was very pleased. The group has been around for over a decade and I look forward to hearing more from them for decades to come.
As the band walked off the stage and the house lights comes back on, drummer Ronnie Vannucci picked up a mic off the floor and finishes with “Hi! We’re The Killers… tell all your friends.” Indeed we will!
Setlist: When You Were Young – house lights on Spaceman The Way It Was Smile Like You Mean It Bling (Confession of a Knife) Human Somebody Told Me Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover) For Reasons Unknown From Here On Out A Dustland Fairytale Read My Mind Runaways All These Things I’ve Done
Encore: Shot at the Night Jenny Was a Friend of Mine Mr Brightside