The Killers 9/30/16

(a) setlist

VIP Pre-Show:

  1. Smile Like You Mean It (acoustic)
  2. Change Your Mind (acoustic)

Sam’s Town:

    1. Sam’s Town
    2. Enterlude
    3. When You Were Young
    4. Bling (Confession of a King)
    5. For Reasons Unknown
    6. Read My Mind
    7. Uncle Jonny
    8. Bones
    9. My. List
    10. This River Is Wild
    11. Why Do I Keep Counting?
    12. Exitlude

Encore 1:

    1. Under The Gun
    2. Spaceman
    3. Human
    4. Somebody Told Me
    5. Runaways
    6. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore 2:

    1. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
    2. Mr. Brightside

(b) highlights

  • Damnnnn, people who regularly do VIP are living the life and I feel lucky as HELL for managing to do the VIP experience for this show because it was worth every penny.
  • Sam’s Town. All of it. The album, yes, but the song too. The hotel, the casino, everything it stands for and everything it gave me. There was no way I was going to miss it turning 10 years old. I saw The Killers the day it came out, so it only felt right to see it live all again a decade later.
  • getting to see the whole band together again. While I respect the hell out of Mark Stoermer and genuinely enjoy his solo work, it’s been hard to see The Killers without him. Having everyone together again made the weekend that much more special – it felt like a reunion in more ways than one.
  • it felt pretty damn cool to stay in a hotel so rich in Killers lore, walk around and hear the band everywhere (even deep cuts like “Goodnight Travel Well,” “Move Away” and “Everything Will Be Alright”), see their name and faces on everything from advertisements in McDonald’s and poker chips, to TV screens in buffets and bars. I wish every show could feel like such a circus and experience.
  • the small touches and finer details that brought everything together – handing out carnations before the show, the stage setup looking exactly the same as it did in 2006, the merchandise being reminiscent of merch sold during the Sam’s Town tour – it killed me.
  • the opening of the show with the projection screen, curtain, and everything turning into “Sam’s Town” – nothing beats those moments leading up to the band appearing behind the curtain. The music, the lights, the images of the desert and old Vegas – I get chills thinking about it. It was my favorite part of the Sam’s Town tour years ago and it was so perfect in every way at this extravaganza.
  • getting to be with all my friends and see all the people I’ve met and become friends with over the last decade. It’s amazing how we all come from all over and keep up over the years, how we’ve changed, how we’ve stayed exactly the same. It’s nice when new fans come along for later albums, but there really is something special about being with people who remember what it was like. To be with the people who were actually there. Sometimes I hold onto these distant memories of being a teenager and seeing these shows…it’s incredible to share these moments again with all those who defended Sam’s Town from the naysayers when it came out. To see that all those people still care about the album brings me an unspeakable joy.

(c) lowlights

  • every single Killers show is wry with idiotic security, disorganization, and annoying af people, but none of it ever matters by the time the show starts. The lowlights were far and few between luckily, but, ultimately, CID Entertainment can go f*ck themselves.

(d) overall thoughts

I still remember October 3, 2006 like it was yesterday. I was a couple months short of turning 16, had seen The Killers live toward the end of their Hot Fuss tour and felt tortured the entire summer of 2006 just waiting for their second album’s release. I lived in LA and the band was set to perform a short set of 6 or so songs on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and follow up the evening with a signing at the Virgin Megastore on Hollywood and Highland. What a time to be alive. The band played “When You Were Young,” “Bones,” “Sam’s Town” and a few other classics and then signed cool posters for everyone, including me and my friends. Later in the week, the band played a string of shows in LA, San Diego, San Francisco, etc. and those series of shows are ones I will never forget as long as I live. So, news leaked of a 10-year anniversary for Sam’s Town in Vegas actually at the Sam’s Town hotel? Hell yeah, we were all going.

My friends and I got super lucky and managed to get the VIP experience for Night 1 of the Sam’s Town Extravaganza, and man, that was an experience. The hotel set up a cool, small stage out by the pool, sold Killers-themed drinks and fun finger foods, gave out poker card-themed VIP laminates, big horn sheep stamps, flowers, and a bunch of other Killers’ stuff. Aside from getting early access into the venue, the coolest part of the VIP experience was getting to see the band play two acoustic songs out on that stage. While “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Change Your Mind” are by no means my favorite Killers songs, the performance felt so so special and sweet. It was amazing to see the whole band together again and the intimacy of the setting warmed my heart so much. Dave and Mark felt very present, Ronnie was in the sound, and Brandon was his semi-awkward, semi-comfortable self. We all sang the keyboard parts aloud because why not? Who knows if I’ll ever get to witness something like that again.

As for the main show itself, there’s nothing quite like Sam’s Town for me. Somehow, that album became so representative of underappreciation, fighting for the underdog, and always wanting to be something better. I’ve written extensively about Sam’s Town and its significance in the past, so I won’t bore anyone with that – but basically the one take-away from that album that I keep with me always is the idea that “Sam’s Town” can be anywhere and mean anything for anyone. It’s not really about a hotel and casino off Boulder Highway, but an idea of home – wherever or whatever that may be. So, for me, hearing Sam’s Town is like going home. As I said, watching that projection against the screen that falls as the band comes out and “Sam’s Town” begins is nothing short of magic. It was EXACTLY just as it was 10 years ago – the movie, the screen, the lights, the keyboard, the piano, the sign, the flags, the “Welcome” sign, the crow, the skeleton – everything. By the time the lights went down and everything started, I was straight up sobbing. It’s not every day someone sets up a scene to look exactly the same as one you remember so vividly 10 years earlier. It had also been about 8 or 9 years since I heard the opening track of Sam’s Town live, so I was out of my mind with emotion and excitement.

One of the standout moments of the night came from hearing “Bling (Confession of a King)” – a song that’s been in my top 3 favorite Killers songs since its release. I remember during the original Sam’s Town tour how emotional that song always made me and how I always sort of associated it with the pain I was going through at the time. During this show at the casino, it amazed me how different I felt as a person this time hearing it. “We’re gonna make it out of the fire, higher and higher, we’re gonna take it down to the wire” – the words that once invoked such pain now brought me joy and freedom. I made it out of that fire. The feeling was a bit similar to hearing Brandon sing “Will I live to have some children?” during “Why Do I Keep Counting?” at the end of the Sam’s Town portion of the set. Yes, he will live to have some children, he just didn’t know that in 2006. It’s funny to think that Brandon wrote all those words at the age of 25 – the same age I am now, writing about the experience of this anniversary show. It’s funny how things like that work out.

It was incredible to watch and hear the album in full – specifically tracks like “Uncle Jonny,” “My List,” “This River Is Wild,” and “Why Do I Keep Counting?” – and realize not only how strong every song is together, but really acknowledge the narrative and story that album tells. The Killers never outright called it a concept album, but it pretty distinctly has a beginning, middle, and end, so it felt like taking a wild ride through an adventurous life that was previously unlived. You feel different by the end, and you feel like you experienced something with all the people around you whether they knew it or not.

By the time the second half of the set rolled around, we were all exhausted but elated. Hearing “Under The Gun” and the parade of usual singles was a whirlwind. Brandon seemed at the top of his game, Mark never looked more energetic, Dave appeared fully awake in each and every moment, and Ronnie, well, we all know that dude is perfect and can do no wrong. All the lights and sounds and sights and friends made for the perfect homecoming; just like the band, we all seemed to have grown so much without changing too much at all. Even though years pass, times change, people transform and grow, we all eventually become the best version of ourselves when the lights go down. Because when the curtain falls, the band is there, and the music is right, we all go home. We go to our own Sam’s Town.

Bottom line: Sam’s Town isn’t just a perfect album because of the parts that make up its whole, but because it represents a time and a place and a feeling and a group of people who’ve found solace in its wisdom and comfort. This night of the Sam’s Town Extravaganza will forever be a special and unforgettable experience for me because it brought me together with life-long friends, touched me in ways beyond musical enlightenment, and gave me a home that I can always go back to as long as I just click “play.” Thank you Sam’s Town, and thanks to the four men that put it together.

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