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Good rock songs stand the test of time, but a lot of the Killers' best songs Tuesday night in St. Paul were for those of us who stood the test of the COVID pandemic.

"Smile like you mean it," singer Brandon Flowers emphatically sang early in his flashy but substantive Las Vegas rock band's return to Xcel Energy Center.

At show's end, he fervently bellowed, "Coming out of my cage and I'm feeling just fine."

Those songs, "Smile Like You Mean It" and "Mr. Brightside," were among the many played off the Killers' 2004 debut album, "Hot Fuss," which dominated Tuesday's set list. The best of those oldies, "All These Things That I've Done" — used as the pre-encore finale — never sounded more like a triumphal march than it did on this night.

A band leaning so heavily on its first record could be taken as a sign it has yet to match the success of its impressive start, which is true in the Killers' case. However, those resiliency-preaching songs — written out of isolated youth and a deep yearning to belong — struck a fresh and fiery chord with the 10,500 fans on hand this time around.

So did some of the broad array of new songs born in the pandemic by Flowers and his crew, which features guitarist Dave Keuning again after a few years of hiatus.

They released one album early in lockdown, "Imploding the Mirage." When their tour had to be postponed, they quickly made another, "Pressure Machine." So they had plenty to choose from.

Among the newer highlights were "My Own Soul's Warning," which opened the show with a blast of confetti and echoes of U2's "Beautiful Day." The rootsier "Cody" was one of several to channel Springsteen-esque Americana drama with help from backup singer Tori Allen's violin playing.

Best of all, "Fire in Bone" urgently captured the toll of the pandemic with such lines as, "No one's gonna save you / You've gotta make it on your own."

Flowers referred to COVID a couple times between songs, including his rather humorous greeting before the third song, "When You Were Young."

"This is a super-spreader event tonight," cracked the 41-year-old frontman, who wore a stylish black jacket that could have been a leftover from Michael Bublé's gig at the X two weeks ago. "We're spreading peace, love and rock 'n' roll."

Adding to the night's meaningful undercurrent, the Killers also brought along one of their heroes. The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr made a strong case for recent solo material (especially "Easy Money") while also doing great justice to some of his old bands' classics — yes, plural "bands," since he also threw in the Electronic nugget "Getting Away With It" alongside "Panic" and "How Soon Is Now?"

Marr also threw in with the headliners, joining the Killers as an extra sideman for the duration of their encore, which included a truly illuminous cover of the Smiths' "There Is a Light," with Flowers enthusiastically egging on the guest. But then, the singer did that for everyone at Tuesday's show.