The Killers (or at least half of them) are set for ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ San Diego concert
If The Killers lose any more members, the Las Vegas-bred quartet may have to be renamed The Killer.
In 2016, you may recall, bassist Mark Stoermer announced he would cease touring with the band so that he could pursue a bachelor’s degree in art history. “I get joy out of making music with The Killers, but being on the road and in the studio was too much,” he said at the time.
Then, last August, guitarist and North County resident Dave Keuning announced he, too, was bowing out of touring with The Killers so he could focus on his family.
That leaves charismatic lead singer Brandon Flowers and rock-solid drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. as the two remaining Killers, although it seems unlikely the band could continue under that name if Flowers was to leave.
For its current tour, which includes a sold-out Tuesday show at Valley View Casino Center, Flowers and Vannucci are being accompanied by lead guitarist Ted Sablay, bassist Jake Blanton, percussionist Rob Whited, keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Robert Loud, and three backing singers.
Stoermer and Keuning are both featured on “Wonderful Wonderful,” The Killers’ fifth studio album, which came out last fall and is the band’s first since 2012. It features cameos by former Dire Straits’ guitarist Mark Knopfler (on “Have All the Songs Been Written”) and actor Woody Harrelson (on the spoken intro to the Arcade Fire-ish “The Calling”). The album also includes a sample of Brian Eno’s “An Ending” (on “Some Kind of Love”) and draws from Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” (on “Run for Cover”).
The title track of “Wonderful Wonderful” — not tot be confused with Johnny Mathis’ 1961 love song of the same name — manages to crib from both Talking Heads and Fleetwood Mac.
Its lyrics find Flowers rhyming “rain” and drain,” ‘believe” and “grieve,” “closed” and “exposed,” “cheer” and “here,” and, well, you get the idea. He also manages, with a presumably straight face, to intone the line: Motherless child I am with thee / Thou wast never alone.
The Talking Heads’ influence is equally pronounced on the electro-funk of “The Man,” which also evokes “Let’s Dance” era David Bowie. On “Out Of My Mind,” Flowers name-drops both Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.
Then there’s “Life to Come,” a song so U2-infuenced that Bono and The Edge are probably wracking their memories trying to recall why they left it off “The Joshua Tree” album. Similarly, “Tyson vs. Douglas” boasts an instrumental intro that could have come straight from Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” album (and finds Flowers comparing himself to Mike Tyson).
Of course, Flowers also channeled Springsteen in 2006 on “Sam’s Town,” which The Killers’ singer modestly declared to be “one of the best albums of the past 20 years.” And his band has always been better at absorbing and expertly channeling the familiar sound and styles of their key musical influences than creating startling new music.
That may be why The Killers typically shine brightest on a concert stage, as the band demonstrated with its soaring 2015 performance at the KAABOO Del Mar festival.
The question now is how much Flowers and Vannucci can soar with hired hands in place of Stoermer and Keuning. (Bonus question: Since Keuning lives barely 30 miles from Valley View Casino Center, might he be a surprise guest at Tuesday’s concert?)
The Killers, with Summer Moon and Amanda Brown
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Valley View Casino Center, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District
Tickets: Sold out
Phone: (619) 224-4171
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