Three things Gilbert Cruz learned about the Killers after seeing the Vegas lads perform their ''Hot'' old tunes and a few new songs live

By Gilbert Cruz
Updated September 27, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Killers: Lyle A. Waisman/

Three things you didn’t know about the Killers

With their sophomore album, Sam’s Town, coming out Oct. 3 (check out our album preview here), and a world tour to follow (click here for dates), Gilbert Cruz took in the Killers’ ”secret” show this past Friday at New York City’s Webster Hall to get a first look at the Las Vegas foursome’s new material live. Three things he learned:

1. New threads do not a new man make.
Sporting a ‘stache, vest and western-style bow tie, Brandon Flowers in his new incarnation wants to present himself as an outlaw of the great American West (though he comes off looking more like the creepy preacher from Poltergeist 2). He still acts like a Victorian dandy, however, with his super performative onstage affectations, waving his hands from side to side like an orchestra conductor. His bandmates are as stoic as ever (save for frantic drummer Ronnie Vanucci, who looks like a cross between Jason Lee and Fire Marshall Bill), sporting waistcoats and intense facial hair that put them somewhere between gunslingers and Vegas hambone acts. It’s all somewhat appropriate since they’re here previewing Sam’s Town (named after a Sin City casino) for die-hard fans.

2. Killers fans REALLY like to sing-along.
The set was heavy on material from their 2004 debut, Hot Fuss, an album that gets catchier with every listen. From ”Mr. Brightside” to ”All These Things that I’ve Done” to ”Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” the 20-something crowd pogoed and sang their hearts out — sometimes even singing out loud snippets of songs that they couldn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) have heard before, like ”Uncle Johnny,” ”Bling (Confessions of a King),” and ”Bones” from Sam’s Town.

3. Sam’s Town is not as good as Hot Fuss.
It’s as simple as that. The album has one genuinely, potentially ubiquitous song — and it’s no coincidence that it’s the first single. ”When You Were Young” could actually have come off Hot Fuss, while most of the rest of Sam’s Town scales back on the band’s synth-heavy sounds. Comparisons have been made far and wide to Born to Run-era Springsteen — and with lyrics about the Fourth of July and the road and the highway, some of that may be valid — but The Boss never crooned like a lounge singer over lines like, ”Don’t you want to feel my bones on your bones? It’s only natural.” Thank god.