Ronnie Vannucci’s grandma Betty held down the front row Wednesday night at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip. Sure, her grandson has been on stages for years, many of them in rooms much larger than this one. But this night marked a first for Vannucci—the first time the Killers drummer would move out from behind his familiar drum kit, grip a microphone, strum a guitar and sing his songs.
As the lights dropped, there was a shared sense of excitement among the slew of longtime Las Vegans who showed up. Vannucci did not disappoint. His new band, Big Talk, wowed the packed crowd of familiar faces with its debut performance.
The five-piece group played its just-released self-titled album in its entirety. If you closed your eyes, you might have mistaken them for Damn the Torpedoes-era Heartbreakers, in all the right ways. Catchy guitar melodies sliced through a brightly distorted wall of sound while the slightly awkward frontman belted out witty lyrics about all things love and alcohol.
Vannucci didn’t carry the typical bravado of a seasoned frontman, that practiced persona—two parts mysterious, one part potentially dangerous—so many lead singers cling to. His was a down-to-earth stage presence. He joked with his guitar tech, smiled, celebrated the moon landing’s anniversary and laughed when he screwed up his lyrics. That kind of authenticity works well for Big Talk.
The band might just turn out to be just a downtime, side project among friends and between Killers albums. But if Wednesday’s first outing is any indication, it’s a lot of fun to experience.