The Killers are in a nerve-wracking, unenviable position for a young band: Their first album, “Hot Fuss” (Island), was such a success that expectations ran rampant for the follow-up, “Sam’s Town” (Island), released last week to mixed reviews. But what doesn’t always work on the album — the grand, sweeping epic reach of many songs, which in recorded form sound just out of the band’s range — became a blessing live, with a stage show obviously designed for arenas mixing pomposity and intimacy in the relatively small Wiltern.
The three-song suite that begins the album also began the show, dropping both a piano-ballad sing-along (“Enterlude”) and the vaguely U2ish current single “When You Were Young” into the rotation early.
The band’s set was a smooth, well-designed barrage of hits: the now-dated synth-popper “Somebody Told Me” and the moody “Smile Like You Mean It,” both radio smashes, followed quickly, giving the mainstream hit-seekers in the crowd ample reason to sit through the new material.
From the Bowie-ish “Bones” to “Bling (Confessions of a King)” — which reaches for Springsteen Americana but sounds a bit like Duran Duran — the new stuff was abetted by a stellar light show and touring keyboardist Ted Sablay.
Frontman Brandon Flowers had plenty of wandering room that often cast him in rock-star silhouette, his non-mic hand outstretched, reaching for the unseen prize.
Flowers has taken to making grand statements about his band in print, and this show backed them up: Even if “Sam’s Town” ends up a misstep, the Killers have proven they can deliver on their promise of bigger is better.