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September 21, 2019

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Killer collaborations from T-Mobile: Brandon Flowers and Dan Reynolds; Ronnie Vannucci and Blue Man Group

Wayne Newton and Shamir

Steve Marcus

Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton performs on opening night of T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, on the Las Vegas Strip.

T-Mobile Arena Grand Opening Night

Opening night of T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, on the Las Vegas Strip. Launch slideshow »

Wayne Newton, Shamir at T-Mobile Arena

Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton performs on opening night of T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, on the Las Vegas Strip. Launch slideshow »

T-Mobile Arena Opening Day

Confetti is shot skyward during the grand opening of MGM Resorts  International's T-Mobile Arena Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Launch slideshow »

Notes on a postcard from the opening of T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday night, with The Killers headlining a lineup that featured Wayne Newton in full Mr. Vegas regalia, an early performance by hip-hop artist Shamir and a host of unannounced artists.

• From Brandon Flowers of The Killers, “When I saw who they wanted to open this arena, I saw Floyd Mayweather Jr. and The Dixie Chicks listed. Now, I love boxing and I’m a country music fan, but I called my managers and said, ‘There is one band who should open this arena, and I happen to sing for that band.’ ”

•: Another moment from Flowers, “There is another band from Las Vegas called Imagine Dragons …” and introduced Dan Reynolds, the singer for I.D., for a spin through “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.” Great performance by these two, and afterward Reynolds sent a message on the @ImagineDragons Twitter page: “Was lovely singing with @TheKillers tonight. They paved the way for bands in Las Vegas.”

•: Know this: The Killers honed their live act at such places as Cafe Espresso Roma, Imagine Dragons at such places as O’Shea’s on the Strip and Newton at such places as Carnival Lounge in the Fremont. These are absolutely homegrown artists who paid the freight at these often-grueling gigs.

•: The Greatest Drum Solo I’ve Seen Not Performed by Neil Peart Award goes to Ronnie Vannucci and members of Blue Man Group.

• Newton once remarked that whenever someone wants to assemble the “must” list of performers for a photo op at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, he invariably gets a call. He was again in that type of lineup at the show’s end joined by Cirque du Soleil, BMG and showgirls in The Killers’ closing cover of “Viva Las Vegas.”

• Shamir shouted “North Las Vegas is in the house!” — because he is from North Las Vegas and a Legacy High graduate — during his show-opening set. A highlight: “Hot Mess,” off the album, “Darker,” in which the artist with the sinewy voice applies the term to a guy: “He’s a hot mess!” Like that. A distinctive artist is Shamir.

• Flamingo Las Vegas comic headliner Jeff Civillico was the answer to a question I was asked frequently during the run-up to the show: “Who is the performer in the show who tosses objects airborne?” I had teased to Civillico’s appearance with that reference in an earlier column.

One of the most famous jugglers in the world (second only to Penn Jillette by our measure), Civillico performed a wacky routine in which he invites an audience member to help him climb atop a tall unicycle (and hijinks ensue!). He also dropped the house lights — no small feat in a new arena — and juggled his glow-in-the-dark balls. It is a highlight, in the dark, of his family-styled show.

• The Killers’ best song performed? I’ll take “Somebody Told Me,” an easy call from “Hot Fuss.” The best song not performed? “On Top,” also from that album.

• Reminder of who still needs to fashion their own live cover of “Viva Las Vegas”: Imagine Dragons. Opportunity knocks …

• The sound at T-Mobile is somewhat compromised because it is a multipurpose arena essentially built for athletic events. There is an echo in the higher level (such as at Hyde Lounge) because of the vast space, but lower it’s pretty good. It’s similar to MGM Grand Garden Arena but will never be as acoustically refined as, say, Reynolds Hall.

• Parking is not likely going to be as big a headache as many Las Vegas residents feared — as long as you plan. Go online to print passes at LasVegas.ParkMobile.com and get to the venue early. Simple. But the crowd seemed late arriving even by Las Vegas standards, possibly because folks were sorting out where to park, and also because bands performing at Toshiba Square held the attention of those holding tickets for the show.

• On that point, great performances by David Perrico and Pop Strings and Mike Johnson’s A-List Lineup before and after The show. The crowd leaving the arena was hit with “Don’t Stop Believing” from the A-List (and big ups to Megan Belk for booking the entertainment at The Park).

Mark it down: This place is going to serve as a great stage for Las Vegas talent. Inside and out.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow Kats on Instagram at Instagram.com/JohnnyKats1.

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