The Killers finally made their way to Central New York. The show which was initially announced nearly three years ago and postponed for two years due to Covid restrictions took place at the Turning Stone Resort’s Event Center Monday night in front of a packed and highly enthusiastic crowd.
The Las Vegas-based arena rock band is touring on their Imploding the Mirage album, released in 2020 but has also released another album in the meantime, 2021’s Pressure Machine. The tour takes them through some of the biggest and most well-known arenas in the world, and Verona, New York. Turning Stone truly pulled off a coup landing one of the biggest bands in the world in their cozy event center.
Joining The Killers as the opener for this tour is alt-rock guitar hero Johnny Marr, who has obviously influenced the headliners in both sound and style.
The casino environment was the perfect setting for a band from Vegas. They entered the arena to Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady” and promptly busted into the title track to frontman Brandon Flowers’ autobiographical album Sam’s Town, a reference to a Vegas landmark familiar to the band in their formative years.
The dapperly-dressed Flowers politely asked the audience if they would “sing along with me tonight?” as if the answer wasn’t already predetermined. Of course, the crowd would be loudly singing along with The Killers’ anthemic songs. That’s the reason they were written. They then promptly burst into one of their biggest hits, “Mr. Brightside” from their 2004 debut, Hot Fuss.
Flowers is a showman and one of the best frontmen in the game today. He wasn’t mailing it in on this night. His energy on stage and the band’s dexterity made it virtually impossible to stand still the entire set.
Confetti? Yeah, that was to be had in droves. One of the curious sights of the night was the presence of leaf blowers in the soundboard area. After the first shot of confetti from the cannons, it was obvious why these guys armed themselves with lawn equipment. The soundboard area seemed to be the direct target. The event center staff will have a long day cleaning up the detritus from the evening’s festivities. This was a celebration in every sense of the word.
The Killers punctuated their 21-song set with songs spanning the band’s entire career, with a slight emphasis on their later releases, one of which included the recently released single “boy.” The new single was well-received by the adoring crowd, many of whom were singing word-for-word along with Flowers, just as he had requested.
Flowers took fan participation to another level late in the set as a fan offered him $120 to play “In the Car Outside” from their most recent release. Flowers took the money and the band launched into the song. That fan must have had a good night at the tables. He may have saved some money if he had waited a bit, seeing as the song had already been performed several times on this tour. But who are we to judge how someone chooses to spend their money?
The Killers wrapped up the main set with their hit “All These Things That I’ve Done” from their debut album. Confetti cannons doused the crowd yet again as Flowers conducted the audience through a chorus of “I got soul/But I’m not a soldier.” If the entirety of the crowd wasn’t singing that chorus, it was very close.
Following a quick break, they came back with “The Man” from 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful album, a poppy dance song that got feet moving. Flowers then introduced opener Johnny Marr, who joined them onstage for a performance of The Smiths’ There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” Flowers is a highly talented vocalist but he should have left the vocals on this one to Marr, who proved earlier in the night that he could pull off anything from The Smiths’ catalog with ease. Who needs Morrissey? Well, maybe for the lyrics.
Marr remained onstage, performing the final song of the night, The Killers’ anthemic banger “When You Were Young.”
Speaking of Marr, the architect of one of the most iconic riffs in alt-rock history, played an all-too-short opening set consisting of eight songs over 30 minutes.
It appeared that many in attendance weren’t familiar with Marr or his material. When the house lights came on during the chorus of his second song, The Smiths’ classic “Panic,” signaling the crowd to sing “Hang the DJ/Hang the DJ/Hang the DJ,” there was a tepid response.
Marr mixed in a few of his solo songs along with another The Smiths’ classic, “This Charming Man” from their debut album. The jangly guitar seemed to get the crowd going and the momentum kept rolling with “Getting Away From It” the debut single from Electronic, his supergroup formed with Bernard Sumner of New Order in the late ’80s.
Marr closed his set with the aforementioned iconic riff and slide guitar that leads “How Soon Is Now?” The Smiths’ classic that has been sampled and covered so many times since its 1984 release.
The Killers including Marr on this tour is a fine tribute to one of the main influences on late 20th century modern rock. The Killers proudly wear their early-’80s alternative influences on their collective sleeves and bringing Marr along allows him to be introduced to another generation of alt-rock fans who could all use some Marr in their lives.
Kudos to The Killers for bringing their outstanding production, musicianship, and entertainment to this neck of the woods. They are among the best live acts out there. Those who couldn’t make it to Turning Stone are surely kicking themselves now.
Your next opportunities to see The Killers on this tour are at the World’s Most Famous Arena (Madison Square Garden) for two dates on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Boston’s TD Garden on Oct. 3, and many other huge arenas around the country. Told you we got lucky with this intimate little gig right here in Central New York.