Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 | 4:32 p.m.
It should be a rite of passage assigned by community caretakers such as Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak that every singer or band who headlines in Las Vegas performs “Viva Las Vegas.”
Call it the performer’s price of admission for playing Las Vegas. Write up a contract (a while back, I listed my favorite, pre-The Killers remakes of the song). And the version by which those covers should be measured today is the rendition performed amid great spectacle by The Killers on Friday night at the 2015 iHeart Radio Music Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Making their first concert appearance in Las Vegas since the 2013 Life Is Beautiful festival downtown, The Killers nailed it (or, killed it, to owe to the obvious) with a set-opening remake of “Viva Las Vegas.”
This was not just a blaring musical account of the title song from the iconic 1965 film starring Elvis and Ann-Margret, though it was that. The band thundered through the number (brace for hyperbole here) led by the strutting appearance by blue-jacketed frontman Brandon Flowers and the requisite percussive flourish of drummer Ronnie Vannucci.
Joining the band were a host of showgirls — genuine showgirls from “Jubilee” at Bally’s who had rehearsed with the band earlier in the day. A call-out to these beautiful dancers: Kat Schwing, Katie Wolfe, Sarah Sutter, Michelle Gaftoi, all draped in silver sequins and crimson headpieces and boas.
Throughout the number, the video screens glimmered with shots of rolling slot machines as Flowers moved easily across the stage and behind the keyboards. It was a refreshing Las Vegas moment, and Flowers called out after the song, “We’re The Killers, brought to you by way of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.”
Gotta love Flowers, forever a guy who draws a four after hitting a hard 17. The Killers also threw down with “Mr. Brightside,” “All These Things That I Have Done” and “When We Were Young,” with a super-tight set that showed they remain among the top live acts, anywhere.
Of course, the first night of iHeart was far more than the Las Vegas superstars. The performances I caught were Kenny Chesney (as much a rock artist as country artist these days), Jason Derulo (great dancer and shedder of shirt, is he), Demi Lovato (she was outfitted impressively in a hard-leather number, but her piercing vocals were set at a way too high level and her introduction of Stephan Jenkins and his acoustic guitar about muted the audience), Lil’ Wayne (where’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. when Lil’ Wayne is onstage? That’s usually where I see him, approaching the ring with Money) and Duran Duran.
Aside from The Killers, that last listed band was the highlight from my seat. Duran Duran effectively summoned the nostalgia, hearkening to an era where music was still purchased on vinyl discs and observed not only during concert tours, but also on MTV. James Corden mentioned in their introduction that Duran Duran has been around for 35 years, but that can’t be true because I am still only 19.
But the band was nonetheless spot on with “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Wild Boys,” “Notorious” and a set-closing “Rio,” with the ever-familiar video graphic of the woman whose name is Rio. Even today, she dances on the sand.
“Rio” was a welcome performance, showing that in this city there is always a spot for a beautiful gal. Just ask Mr. Flowers for a table.
MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.