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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Review: The Killers give a rock concert to remember at Mohegan Sun

    The Killers played Mohegan Sun on Friday. (Chris Phelps)
    The Killers’ Brandon Flowers sings to a packed Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday.
    Drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr.
    The Killers performed Friday at Mohegan Sun.

    Uncasville ― Not even a pandemic can dull rock-star shimmer.

    Exhibit A: The Killers.

    The group returned to touring last year and played the Mohegan Sun Friday for the first time since 2016. And wow. The sterling lineup led by vocalist Brandon Flowers was in fine form.

    The show was a bracing reminder of just what we missed when sold-out Arena concerts weren’t a thing because of COVID. The fans packed into the Arena — especially those in the no-chairs floor area — spent much of the night jumping up and down and pumping their fists overhead. It was all music-propelled, viscerally communal joy.

    This night of driving energy started (why wait?) with canons shooting confetti over the audience. Then the Killers took over, supported by a multi-musician, three-singer backing band.

    The group’s biggest hits — “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” — naturally brought the most cheers. But the crowd was enthused about the whole catalog, and rightly so, from “Shot at the Night” to “In Another Life.”

    One underrated number really shone when done live; “Runaway Horses” was a quieter, rootsier song than the rest of the set (reflecting the tone of the album it’s from, 2021’s excellent “Pressure Machine”), and it allowed for more of a focus on the eloquent lyrics. Beautiful.

    The Killers also broke out a couple of covers. They did right by the Fleetwood Mac classic “Go Your Own Way”: Flowers noted that “Way” songwriter Lindsey Buckingham had worked with them on the tune “Caution” and joined them for a show in L.A.

    And the band took on “Where the Streets Have No Name” by Irish icons U2 in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, with a beautifully effective stripped-down version featuring just guitarist Ted Sablay and Flowers.

    Speaking of Flowers, he oozes the charisma of a born frontman, at times recalling bits of Jagger or Bowie. He brings a freshness and earnestness to rock ‘n’ roll tropes — even moves as familiar as leading the crowd to wave their arms in the air, or encouraging them to sing along to lyrics (the repetition of “I got soul/But I’m not a soldier” from “All These Things That I’ve Done” became a rock ‘n’ roll mantra on Friday).

    Dressed in a sharp, dark suit, Flowers, now 41, still has the chiseled good looks that fans who discovered The Killers with the video for 2004’s “Mr. Brightside” recall. While Flowers was mostly free to strut and stalk around the stage on Friday, he occasionally stopped to play a keyboard that was centerstage, behind a set piece in the shape of an infinity sign.

    The concert had some cool lighting and evocative videos of the band’s Las Vegas hometown — lonely desertscapes, and neon-lit Vegas strip landmarks melting into abstraction — but the night was really about the music.

    And this was fun: One of the band’s signature bits involves bringing a fan onstage to play drums on “For Reasons Unknown.” This time, it was a guy named Andrew. Flowers asked Andrew if he really could handle it, adding, “We’ve been burned a couple of times.” Andrew got behind the kit and, to employ a band-appropriate phrase, killed it. Afterward, Flowers said, “Restoring our faith in humanity — Andrew!”

    And I’ll add: Restoring our faith in rock ‘n’ roll — The Killers!

    Editor’s note: This version corrects the name of the guitarist who performed at the concert.

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