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Photos: Ronnie Vannucci’s Big Talk at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip

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Erik Kabik/Retna/ErikKabik.com

Big Talk, featuring The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci as frontman, performs its debut concert at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip on July 20, 2011.

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Ronnie Vannucci's Big Talk at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip

Big Talk, featuring The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci as frontman, at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip on July 20, 2011.

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Big Talk, featuring The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci as frontman, performs its debut concert at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip on July 20, 2011.

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Big Talk, featuring The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci as frontman, performs its debut concert at Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip on July 20, 2011.

There’s something endearing about a rock star outside his comfort zone.

For The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci last night, that was about 15 feet in front of his usual perch, a drum stool. Standing at the front of the stage, guitar in hand, he had turned frontman of his very own band, Big Talk.

“I’m scared, excited, but not alone,” Vannucci told the crowd at the show at the Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip.

The nerves were real. Vannucci had sweat through his T-shirt by the time he hit the stage about 10:15 p.m.

So, too, was the support in this endeavor. The crowd included friends, family and other well-wishers.

“My grandma’s in the front row. Everybody say ‘Hi, Betty’,” Vannucci said in apparent sincerity.

Wearing his fears on his sleeve, Vannucci channeled that emotion into the crunching power chords and howling vocals of Big Talk’s straight-ahead rock.

Vannucci has said Big Talk is the result of restlessness. With The Killers on hiatus, he wasn’t content to sit at home. He had a lot of musical energy that needed an outlet.

Last night, he told the crowd that the band was going to play its new, self-titled album front to back. And that’s what they did.

The set included “Katzenjammer,” “Getaways,” “Under Water,” “The Next One Living,” “Replica,” “No Whiskey,” “Girl at Sunrise,” “White Dove,” “Living in Pictures,” “Hunting Season,” “A Fine Time to Need Me” and “Big Eye.”

Vannucci was an engaging presence onstage. He joked and rattled off brief anecdotes and involved the audience.

To chants of “Ronnie,” “Ronnie,” “Ronnie,” he said, “Cut that … out. There are four other people up here who are going to get jealous.”

Then during a pause between songs to get his instrument in order, he said: “This feels weird -- tuning a guitar.” And later, “This is a pretty good first show.”

The crowd appeared to agree. They remained in place, even after the house lights and music came up. Finally, Vannucci came out to say thank you.

The mics had been turned off, so he just yelled it.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

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