In the space between adolescence and middle age -- between jeans skinny and Mom -- exists The Killers.
The Las Vegas quartet bridges the gap between people who remember the '80s and youngsters intrigued by the anthemic sounds emitted by that magic instrument known as a synthesizer.
A bit of Roxy Music, a touch of Pet Shop Boys and even a dash of The Cult -- the Killers evoked them all Tuesday night at Arco Arena while keeping a modest but enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 on its feet.
That included people who stood only after Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers shamed them into it.
"The people who are sitting down -- you're killing me," Flowers told the crowd. "We are not The Fray."
Flowers and his bandmates definitely rock harder than The Fray. They're also more elliptical, musically and lyrically.
Some of The Killers' songs, such as "Human," from the 2008 release "Day & Age," are so lyrically obtuse that they might have blocked messages from audience members' brains to their feet.
"Human" has a beat you can dance to, certainly, but what do The Killers mean by the line "Are we human, or are we dancer?" (I ask this after about 50 enjoyable/perplexing listens over the past year.)
Two exceptions from "Day & Age" are "Joy Ride," with its self-explanatory lyrics and insistent beat, and "A Dustland Fairytale," which, like the excellent "When You Were Young" from the Killers' 2006 CD "Sam's Town," tackles the plight of the easily charmed woman.
Flowers' elastic tenor reached such emotional heights during "Fairytale" Tuesday night that you wondered if he knows the woman in the song who got sucked in by a "slick chrome American prince." The Killers' portrayal of romance among the have-nots can approach the poetic, and at some moments, even the Springsteen-esque.
Consisting on Tuesday night of Flowers (vocals and synth), drummer Ronnie Vannucci, bassist Mark Stoermer, guitarist Dave Keuning and two side players, The Killers created a sound at once big, elaborate and exceptionally sharp. The band sounded even better when stripped down to its core for comparatively straightforward songs such as "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me," both from 2004's "Hot Fuss."
The Killers' songs are credited to the whole band. One gets a strong sense, however, that Flowers runs the creative show. He certainly doesn't seem to be in it for the glory of being a front man.
Despite the effervescence he displays on stage, Flowers is no spotlight hog. He interacted with the Arco audience infrequently, and he even seemed a little shy while apologizing, during the encore, for what he had said earlier about The Fray.
The gesture showed that Flowers has manners to match his angelic face.
In other words, it wasn't very rock 'n' roll.