Vegas Strong Benefit Concert unites entertainers for a memorable night

Penn Jillette, Wayne Newton, Brandon Flowers and Dan Reynolds perform “Viva Las Vegas” at the Vegas Strong Benefit Concert December 1 at T-Mobile Arena.
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There were many emotional moments during the Vegas Strong Benefit Concert at T-Mobile Arena on December 1, an all-star night of powerful live performances and video tributes honoring the victims and survivors of the October 1 tragedy on the Las Vegas Strip.

One of the most resonant came late in the show, when Brandon Flowers sang “Be Still” accompanied only by the guitar strumming of Dave Keuning:

“You’ve got a lot of heart/Is this real or just a dream?

Rise up like the sun/Labor till the work is done.”

Far from a hit single, the song seems like it could have been written for this occasion; it’s actually from The Killers’ 2012 album, Battle Born. The performance was unique from the rest of the show in that it was a bit melancholy, inspiring many in the audience to raise their lit phones in tribute.

The rest of The Killers’ set was much more uplifting and celebratory—and quite loud—punctuated by the presence of Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer (the two band members who haven’t been touring recently with Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci) and their biggest hits. Images of familiar Downtown neon flashed on massive screens during “Somebody Told Me.”

The Killers closed the well-produced benefit by welcoming the other entertainers performing and appearing onstage for a rollicking version of “Viva Las Vegas.” Throughout the night, Carrot Top, Jay Leno, Blue Man Group, performers from Cirque du Soleil’s Mystére, David Copperfield, Jay Leno, Wayne Newton and Penn & Teller took the stage, and other Vegas luminaries such as Kurt Busch and Bryce Harper made appearance, too. Celine Dion, Elton John, Jason Aldean, George Strait and Jimmy Kimmel sent in video tributes (although Kimmel’s wasn’t broadcast due to an unidentified technical difficulty).

Non-musical performances were brief, with Boyz II Men, Imagine Dragons and The Killers anchoring the event. Boyz II Men, headlining residents at the Mirage, kicked things off with their classic R&B ballads, including an a capella version of “End of the Road.” And Imagine Dragons played an emotional set highlighted by the inspirational “Whatever It Takes” from latest album Evolve. Frontman Dan Reynolds took a rock 'n' roll break for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the tragedy, many of whom came from somewhere else. “When you’re in Vegas, you are family to this city,” he said.

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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