The Killers w/ Johnny Marr• August 30, 2022• Vivint Arena
Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe
Photographed by the great Rob Loud
Rocker, Joan Jett once said, “No one knows what anticipation is anymore. Everything is so immediate.” I’m one who tends to generally agree with the Rock N Roll Hall of Famer. However, I might argue that for a concert going fanatic such as myself that these last few years have been filled with nothing but anticipation. Shows announced in 2019 and 2020 were postponed and rescheduled only to be postponed and rescheduled again. There was no concert I’ve been anticipating more than The Killers Imploding the Mirage Tour. Fans of The Killers have been anticipating this concert for almost three years.
Not only that but The Killers hadn’t played Utah since 2018. That was the night Brandon Flowers had the second greatest flu performance inside Vivint Arena (Delta Center). Michael Jordan being the first in the 1998 NBA Finals vs The Jazz. It’s a toss up really because Brandon Flowers was pretty special that night in 2018.
It’s hard to believe I’m sitting at my computer writing this review about what was easily one of the greatest shows I’ve been to. From the setlist to the crowd, to the lighting and visuals, to the opener, this was an incredible show from top to bottom. The Killers were in top form. They are better live right now than at any time in the band’s history.
Speaking of the opener. The Killers invited Johnny Marr, THE Johnny Marr, to join them on this tour. Johnny Marr is an alternative music legend. Best known as the guitarist and co-songwriter for The Smiths, Marr has had an extensive career. Teaming up with Bernard Sumner of New Order to form Electronic, joining Modest Mouse (who coincidentally were playing about an hour north at Ogden Twilight), and an extensive solo career gave Marr an extensive repertoire to pull from.
I was fortunate enough to observe this concert from the General Admission floor. I found my spot next to a 6’9’’ former BYU football player. It was perfect. No one was going to stand behind him because they couldn’t see. So as long as I stood right next to him, I’d be able to see and if I stayed close I knew no one would try to push ahead because he wasn’t going anywhere. Oh yeah, there are some brains behind this pretty face, folks.
Johnny Marr opened with “Armatopia” from his solo catalog. He quickly followed with The Smiths’ classic “Panic”. I noticed a loud ovation from the crowd. Because I was relatively close to the stage (humble brag alert) on the floor I wasn’t aware of how much the arena had filled. There were very few empty seats. For the opener! A couple of other solo songs “Night and Day” and “Spirit, Power, and Soul” went over well with the audience. The next song was probably my favorite of the set. Mostly because I was really surprised to hear it.
As I mentioned, Johnny Marr teamed up with Bernard Sumner of New Order to form Electronic in the late 80s/ early 90s. He performed an awesome arrangement of “Getting Away With It”, the band’s biggest hit. It was fun to see the elation from those in the audience who knew this song. Electronic was set to go on a US tour in 1990. A tour I had tickets to. But for some reason, the tour was canceled. It was amazing to hear this song live after all that time.
I’d say the crowd favorites of Johnny Marr’s set were “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” and the set closer, “How Soon Is Now”. Both are just massively huge alternative music staples. I felt like if there was someone in the crowd who was too embarrassed to admit (rightfully so) that they weren’t familiar with Johhny Marr, they definitely knew these songs. The crowd responded with a loud ovation when that resonating guitar reverb played at the beginning of “How Soon Is Now”. I was impressed with Marr’s voice. His guitar playing was going to be great, but he sounded really good singing these songs. I think his solo music is worth looking into.
He has a new album Fever Dream that was flying off the merch tables inside Vivint Arena. He was the perfect opener. By the end of his set, the audience was moving and clearly warmed up. We only had about 30 more minutes left of anticipation and it would be time for The Killers to take the stage!
While the crew was turning over the stage, instead of playing familiar songs over the PA like you’d normally hear, it seemed there was music specifically written for that break. It felt very subtle, but very Killers. There was a build to it that brought us right to the moment when the lights turned off and the band was about to walk out.
The lights were off. The crowd wasted no time getting on their feet. There was no sign of the band walking out and the crowd was already deafening when the digital screen lit with the Imploding the Mirage album cover. You want anticipation Joan Jett? Wait for The Killers to take the stage after the lights go out. It was probably 90 seconds, but it felt like another three years. All of a sudden there was movement. Silhouettes of the band walking on stage. I could see Ronnie Vannucci Jr. saddle up to his drum kit. The outline of Dave Keuning’s amazing hair was so distinct.
Once everyone was settled, on the corner of stage right a dapper looking donned in a black pinstripe suit and black shirt, backlit Brandon Flowers began singing the opening track on Imploding the Mirage, “My Own Souls Warning”. I quickly text my friend who was in another section, “Great opener!”. And it was. I feel like that song is so underrated. I felt like it was getting it’s due as Flowers changed the words to, “I just wanted to get back to Salt Lake City” and Vivint Arena shook as the song crescendo’d.
Following “My Own Soul’s Warning” The Killers began “Enterlude” off of Sam’s Town. I figured it was a just a good transition song for the show with “We hope you enjoy your stay…”. My friend who came with me said, “Are they going to do ‘When We Were Young’ right now?!” Which is he song that follows “Enterlude” on Sam’s Town. I told him, no way. That’s been a closer of theirs before. I don’t tink they’d do it second. Well guess what, people? They played “When We Were Young” FOR THE SECOND SONG!!!! Remember that time a tornado came through Salt Lake City and ripped the roof off of the Delta Center?
I think that almost happened for a second time when Keuning played the opening chord to that “When We Were Young”. I can’t remember the last time I jumped that high and for that long. My feet might not forgive me for a while, but it was so worth it. We’re two songs in and the place is in a frenzy.
If you think things mellowed out after that you are sorely mistaken. The Killers blazed through heavy hitters like “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. Songs like “Shot at the Night” and “Running Towards a Place” went over well. There was no let down. Just when I thought, “Ok this is where the show might slow down a bit.”, The Killers played an awesome version of “Human”. The second the crowd knew what song it was, they made it clear how excited they were for that one. Throughout the evening The Killers would intro songs in a creative way to add some mystery to what the song was only to reveal it and get a huge ovation.
“Human” was followed by “Somebody Told Me” and are you kidding me? How many crowd pleasers can one band have? Even their new single “Boy” crushed. It would be so easy for me to break down each song. But we’re almost at 1300 words, folks. And we’ve still got some things to cover. But quickly, “Runaways” transitioning to “Read My Mind” Brandon Flowers leading the crowd in, “We can’t waiiiiiiiit til tomorrow!” was an epic moment. I love those two songs, so hearing them back to back with that transition blew me away.
One of the best stretches of the night was as the band led up to the encore break. Brandon Flowers quoted Helen Keller ,“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it”. He then dedicated one of my favorite songs, “Rut” to anyone who was suffering. A shortened “Rut” was followed by “Caution” which seemed like it was about to be followed by “All These Things That I’ve Done”. My friend and I were getting fired up when we heard that intro synth chord. But there was a bit of a stir. Brandon Flowers began talking to someone in the audience. The camera was showing on the screens a sign from a fan asking “Let me play with my heroes”. Brandon Flowers asked him if he really knew the song. And then he asked, “Are you at least from Utah?”.
He then invited 18 year old, Alec Andersen to play drums on “For Reasons Unknown”. I’m assuming that’s what he was requesting to play. Sometimes I get suspicious that these things are rigged. But if you look on the setlist, “For Reasons Unknown” is not on there. They were in fact about to play “All These Things That I’ve Done”. So I’m choosing to believe this was a spontaneous thing.
The 18 year old from Lehi got up to the drum kit and off they went. Dave and Ronnie would approach the new Killers drummer from time to time to help keep things steady. They got through the song. It was an awesome moment. What a dream come true for that kid! He did such a great job. On an unrelated note, I’ll be starting drum lessons on Monday.
Once the selfies, massive applause, and congratulations were over, that very familiar synth chord returned. I’ve written a lot of words here. But I don’t know if I can come up with the right words to express how I felt as Brandon Flowers sang, “When there’s nowhere else to run. Is there room for one more sun?” Religious? Out of body? Euphoric? Sure. Those sound about right. My voice was going, my feet were about to fall off from standing for over three hours straight, I was sweating through my shirt, and yet I felt none of that. All I felt was the pulsing thunder of thousands of hands clapping and thousands of mouths shouting, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier”!!! Over and over and over agian.
I wanted time to stand still. Just hearing that phrase ring throughout the arena was everything I hoped it would be. Until that last moment when Flowers holds out “…I’m not a soldiiieeeeeeeeeer”! The floor and lower and upper bowls exploded in to euphoria. I’ll never forget the visual of hands and confetti and strangers arm in arm jumping. What a spectacle!
The Killers left and returned with what Brandon Flowers described as “Something special” for us. They played a block of songs from their most recent album the Nephi, Utah inspired Pressure Machine. It was really cool. If I can nit pick anything from this show it would be that I wish this was earlier in the set. That being said, I loved these songs and it was cool to hear them played here in Utah.
Whenever I felt like, “Ok that’s it. We’ve seen it all”. More was to be had. Following “Spaceman” Brandon Flowers invited the great Johnny Marr on stage to perform with The Killers. They played a cover of The Smiths’ “Stop Me if You Think You’ve…”. It must be so surreal performing with one of your idols.
Again, you’d think we’d be out of surprises. We knew what was coming. “Mr. Brightside”. But instead of just playing that song, which would have of course been amazing, they started the song with the Jacques Lu Cont Remix of the song. People were dancing and a little perplexed. This is the song we want, but it’s different, but we still love it! The Killers, still joined by Johnny Marr, played through the first verse, paused, and then Dave Keuning infamous riff rang out. With whatever energy the crowd still had, which apparently was alot, they went ballistic.
Singing louder than ever and making sure, if I could use a sports phrase, to leave it all there in the arena. As the band left people were still chanting for one more song. We were well over two hours in and people wanted more. That says a lot. In case you can’t tell, I loved every minute of this show. Believe it or not, this is me being objective. The show was really that great. I was surrounded by really fun strangers who were having an incredible time, and the band was quite simply on point.
People probably slept well after that show. I myself did not because I was so wired! It was impossible to stop thinking about it and watching videos I took on my phone. I have an idea. Let’s get The Killers back sooner than 2026. And let’s pack Vivint Arena again. Or better yet, let’s sell out Rice- Eccles! Either way, I can’t wait to have these guys back. This tour is exceptional!