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Impressions from T-Mobile Arena’s opening night with The Killers

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The Killers play T-Mobile Arena’s opening night.
Photo: Erik Kabik

1. The Killers will go down as the Strip arena’s inaugural headliner, but 21-year-old North Las Vegas product Shamir Bailey, aka rising electro/pop star Shamir, will forever stand as the first-ever act to play for a ticketed crowd in the 20,000-capacity building (discounting an invite-only practice date featuring Martina McBride and Cam). T-Mobile was nearly empty on April 6—apart from a few hundred devoted Killers fans packed near the front of the GA floor—when Shamir hit the stage 15 minutes before the concert’s advertised 8 p.m. start time, and he held his own despite the heightened circumstances. The 30-minute set hit a higher gear with the pulsating “Hot Mess” off last year’s debut album Ratchet, and the singer stayed in strong voice on ballad “Demon” and Hot Chip-y closer “Head in the Clouds.” Here’s hoping it won’t take further arena openings or large-scale festivals to bring Shamir back to town for his next performance.

Wayne Newton plays with The Killers during T-Mobile Arena's opening night.

Wayne Newton plays with The Killers during T-Mobile Arena's opening night.

2. “Wayne Newton’s next,” Shamir announced near the end of his time, surely the most surreal moment on a night full of them for the young performer. The 74-year-old Mr. Entertainment indeed arrived soon thereafter, and though his voice didn’t project particularly well in the large venue, the sentiment felt right—stacking three Vegas generations for a giant-sized Vegas occasion. The still-arriving crowd seemed content to cross him off its bucket lists initially, then reacted more warmly when The Killers brought him back out to guest on “Johnny B. Goode” and “Viva Las Vegas” later in the show.

3. Before we turn to those Killers, a few words about the arena itself. The food rules. I ate a Shake Shack burger and fries, half a giant banh mi grinder, a slider … okay, you get it; I ate a lot, and it was a lot better than most arena food. Beer-wise, the taps I spotted were far from typical, too (if you’re gonna spend $13, might as well get some high-ABV into your life), so the pre-show concourse experience earned high marks. As for sound and sight lines, I’ll have to wait till next time to weigh in fully, as our media position in the towering Hyde Lounge—while plush and luxurious—didn’t afford me an accurate vantage point for advising folks considering ponying up for seats below. I can only say that, from where I sat, the sound seemed solid by arena standards.

Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds joins the Killers onstage during T-Mobile Arena's opening night.

Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds joins the Killers onstage during T-Mobile Arena's opening night.

4. Back to those Killers. Early in the headliners’ hour-and-50-minute performance, frontman Brandon Flowers explained that the band specifically asked to open T-Mobile when it heard Floyd Mayweather and the Dixie Chicks were under consideration, and the Vegas-birthed quartet proved worthy of the big-night billing. Though a set-opening “Mr. Brightside”—delivered to a fully lit audience—got things off on an odd note, it was the only significant misstep in a greatest-hits parade packed with memorable moments: the laser light show of “Spaceman;” Flowers’ solo/piano “Human” intro, followed by a full-on version featuring the Blue Man Group drummers; a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (further tracing Vegas’ musical tree); and, perhaps most significantly, an encore rendition of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” that brought Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds to the stage for the first live collaboration between Las Vegas’ two biggest bands. Lots of huge acts are sure to follow The Killers to the T-Mobile stage from here, and they’ve got a high bar to clear. –Spencer Patterson

5. (Encore) For those lucky enough to witness both the T-Mobile Arena opening and The Killers’ “afterparty” show at the Bunkhouse, it’s hard to avoid hyperbole. Was this the greatest night in Las Vegas rock history? Sounds about right. The band took the stage Downtown well after midnight and plowed through their hits one more time (along with infrequently performed cuts like “Midnight Show” and “On Top”), easily summoning the energy vibrating off the bouncing, body-to-body crowd to play for about an hour and 15 minutes. Gold-jacketed Brandon Flowers seemed to particularly relish belting out Sam’s Town track “Bones,” while the audience freaked out best during “Runaways” and closers “When You Were Young” and “Mr. Brightside.” This band, this venue, this night … as close as it gets to unbelievable. –Brock Radke

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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Photo of Brock Radke

Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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