<preform>The Killers, Fleece and Firkin, Bristol <br>Gonzales/ The Pipettes/ David Devant And His Spirit Wife/Pink Grease, Various venues, London</preform>

Viva Las Vegas! Viva rock'n'roll!
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The Independent Culture

It's easy being cool when you're from Manhattan. Strokes? Interpol? Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Not impressed. Try it when you're from rattlesnakes-and-one-armed-bandit country. The Killers are from casino city - their first UK shows were advertised with the girlie-enticing strapline "Four Heartbreakers From Las Vegas" - and wrote their imminent debut album, the appropriately-named Hot Fuss, in a garage under the 120-degree dry heat of the Nevada sun.

It's easy being cool when you're from Manhattan. Strokes? Interpol? Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Not impressed. Try it when you're from rattlesnakes-and-one-armed-bandit country. The Killers are from casino city - their first UK shows were advertised with the girlie-enticing strapline "Four Heartbreakers From Las Vegas" - and wrote their imminent debut album, the appropriately-named Hot Fuss, in a garage under the 120-degree dry heat of the Nevada sun.

The "Heartbreakers" tag isn't too much of an exaggeration: they have that boy band something-for-everyone factor (long hair, short hair, big hair, shaggy hair). Singer Brandon Flowers, who also plays keyboards (like Hot Hot Heat's Steve Bays), with his serious, Tarantino eyebrows, skinny tie and prowess with a five iron - he's interviewed in this month's Golfpunk magazine - has a certain Rat Pack suaveness. Bassist Mark Stoermer is tall and rangey, guitarist David Keuning, with his zig-zag guitar and Jagger tongue T-shirt, is the Nick Valensi of the set-up, and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, with his cartoon gurning and habit of standing up to play, is very much their Keith Moon.

They're clearly Anglophiles, and the love is beginning to be reciprocated. Re-released debut single "Mr Brightside" is number nine midweek, and Morrissey - the Anglophile's Anglophile - hand-picked them to support him at a recent Los Angeles show, and sat in on their soundcheck.

And all this (hot) fuss is not unjustified. The Killers have a habit of doing exactly what it says on the tin: one of their songs is called "Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll", and that's about the size of it. Tracks like "Believe Me Natalie" and "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine" are stylish New Wave, intelligent but not verbose, emotional but not Emo. They are, as Vincent Vaughan would have put it in Swingers (the ultimate Vegas movie), so money.

Regular readers will be aware that May was a long, grim month for me: Norah, Eric, Alanis in quick succession, with only Britney and The Streets to break the snooze-rock overload. Fortunately I've seen plenty of things to convince me that the spirit of entertainment is alive and well in rock'n'roll.

At Trash, I've watched Canadian eccentric Gonzales, now retired from prankster rap, reinvent himself as a cocktail pianist, and hold a seated crowd of cross-legged clubbers rapt as he hammers the keys on a rickety upright with his manly fingers, through renditions of Michael Sembello's Flashdance hit "Maniac", George Benson's "Give Me The Night", and his own "Take Me To Broadway".

At the ICA, I've watched The Pipettes, a polka-dotted girl trio from Brighton (backed by a band which includes members of Electric Soft Parade), reinvent Sixties pop kitsch with their insanely catchy tunes, laugh-out-loud lyrics, and choreographed hand movements from the Supremes/Ronettes manual. I defy you to not fall in love with this band.

At Lock 17, I've seen the eternally-underrated David Devant And His Spirit Wife - they're named after a 19th-century English magician, who in turn named himself after seeing a French painting called David devant Goliath, and whose spirit the group's singer, Vessel, claims to be channelling. The witty Bowie/Roxy-influenced band rediscover their love of performance art, and continue their fondness for corny anti-rhymes ("bucket" with "forget it" being just one example from their fine new album Power Words For Better Living).

At Brown's, I've watched the mighty Pink Grease, five glam-surf-electro-punk lunatics from Sheffield, preview their debut album This Is For Real by overcoming a tiny stage and a terrible sound system with a typically joyous, hysterical, chaotic set.

None of these artists are in the vanguard of musical futurism, but they're all making my nights out a lot more fun. The second half of 2004 is shaping up very nicely indeed.

s.price@independent.co.uk

The Killers: Fibbers, York (01904 651250), ton; King Tut's, Glasgow (0141 221 5279), Mon; Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (0115 958 8484), Wed; Mean Fiddler, London WC2 (020 7434 0403), Thur; tour continues

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