In the fall of 2016, Atlanta was treated to a rare sighting of The Killers when the band headlined Music Midtown.
The Las Vegas-based outfit officially returned to the road last summer, a few months before their fifth album – and first in five years – “Wonderful, Wonderful” bowed, so at this point, the polished performance that the band brought to a sold-out Infinite Energy Arena on Sunday should be pitch perfect.
And, for the majority of the night, it was.
Taking the stage to the moody, gothic-tinged title track of the new album, The Killers immediately established that this outsized production would be their most noteworthy in a 15-year career.
Singer Brandon Flowers swaggered across the stage as the sinewy groove of “The Man” pumped and the iconic neon cowboy and cowgirl (Vegas Vic and Vickie, respectively) from Vegas’ defunct Glitter Gulch strip club waved and kicked on the gorgeous, curved video screen behind him.
Adding an early adrenaline rush to the show was the burst of pink confetti that showered the fans packed on the general admission floor.
Flowers has evolved into a caffeinated frontman, which is necessary since he has a bit more heavy lifting to do; he and underrated drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. are the only originals from the quartet traveling the world for this tour.
They are joined by a stable of musicians – Ted Sablay on guitar, Jake Blanton on bass and a slate of background players (Taylor Milne on guitars, Robbie Connolly on keyboards, Rob Whited on percussion and singers Erica Canales, Danielle Withers and Amanda Brown) – who were taut and proficient, but also, occasionally, overpowering.
Flowers’ distinctive voice has always been more crooner than rocker, and even on a most familiar tune such as “Somebody Told Me,” the boom of the rhythm section muddied his vocals. Much later in the show, a similar issue clouded “The River is Wild,” a meaningful song to Flowers, who prefaced it with a story about growing up in small-town Utah and how, 21 years later, he’s “still at it.”
But despite the moments of overbearing sound, Flowers was a delight to observe, as he collapsed the space between audience and stage (“Will you sing with me?” he asked sincerely during the Springsteen-with-synthesizers album track, “The Way it Was”), leaping on small platforms and bopping around his in powder blue suit and perfect coif during “Spaceman.”
Even with only five albums in their repertoire, The Killers have a stout stash of songs to pull from and though they have a new album to promote, they didn’t neglect their past.
“I Can’t Stay,” with the stage bathed in a lovely amber hue, represented 2008 (along with “A Dustland Fairytale” and “Human,” which featured cool, red squiggles on the screen – a heart – that pulsed with Vannucci’s bass drum).
The sweeping “When We Were Young” reminded of the 2006 “Sam’s Town” period, while their auspicious 2004 debut, “Hot Fuss,” offered – along with the megahits and the anthemic “All These Things That I’ve Done” – the hazy New Wave-influenced “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” complete with dramatic mic twitches and gestures from Flowers.
Of the new songs, the insightful “Rut,” which showcased the talents of the backing trio, also featured one of Flowers’ most forceful vocal performances of the night.
There were a couple of harmless detours – a bass-playing fan was brought onstage to hold down the groove during “For Reasons Unknown” and Alex Cameron and his band performed their “Runnin’ Outta Luck” with Flowers.
But mostly, fans couldn’t take their eyes on Flowers. And he’s earned their devotion.