The Killers continue to triumph
As The Killers dive into the thick of the 2018 dates of their Wonderful Wonderful Tour they leave behind a year of triumph, tragedy and change. The band’s fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. It was The Killers’ first album to reach the top of the Billboard 200 album chart, and became their fifth U.K. chart topper. They helped raise $700,000 for the victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting when they played the Dec. 1 Vegas Strong Benefit Concert alongside Imagine Dragons and Wayne Newton.
Although their latest concerts have been warmly praised by critics, there is a conspicuous difference onstage, as guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer are absent. They are not out of the band, though. Both contributed to Wonderful Wonderful, although much of the songwriting seems to come from a personal place within frontman Brandon Flowers. The strutting bravado driving Wonderful’s lead single, “The Man,” with its Bowie-funk feel and Flowers’ vocal channeling Robert Smith, could apply to any of the band members’ experiences after achieving sudden fame, but “Rut,” for example, was inspired by Flowers’ wife’s struggle with PTSD.
Focusing on being a dad is a main factor in keeping Keuning off the road, while constant travel is a hassle for 6-foot-5 Stoermer. He’d prefer to attend New York University, and spent last summer on an art tour of Italy while the rest of the band, with longtime touring member Jake Blanton now on bass, headlined Lollapalooza. Stoermer was to rejoin on July 31 for a Caesars Palace show filmed for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, but an injury prevented him from doing so. Touring guitarist/keyboardist Ted Sablay took over for Keuning for the tour, with keyboardist/guitarist Robbie Connolly and lead guitarist Taylor Milne rounding out the live lineup.
While the idea of both Keuning and Stoermer not sharing The Killers stage may take a few songs to get used to for the most devoted Victims (as fans of the bands prefer to be identified), the live lineup brings things back home musically for drummer Ronnie Vannucci. He once played drums in a pre-Killers band with Sablay and Milne called Expert on October, and Milne plays in Vannucci’s band Big Talk. There’s no shortage of chemistry—or covers: Both Muse and Morrissey had to cancel respective co-headlining bills in 2017, and The Killers stepped up with homages to the other acts in successful attempts to satiate the crowds.
They’ll co-headline with Muse again on this year’s festival circuit at BottleRock and Bonnaroo, then will play Boston Calling with Eminem and Jack White before heading to Europe. What becomes of The Killers after spending what could become an inordinate stretch of time on tour remains to be seen. All four classic-lineup Killers were onstage for the Vegas Strong concert, demonstrating that while their bonds may have loosened they, like their hometown, remain unbroken.
MGM Grand, 8 p.m. Feb. 3, sold out. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster