This concert saw The Killers back in blistering form after a four-year stretch in the wilderness, with them deftly combining new songs and old classics, whilst all the time looking as if they were having a ball. The packed house at the Capital FM Arena needed no encouragement, and cheered Brandon Flowers and Co on all the way through a fantastic set.
On emerging into the light, The Killers immediately looked as if they had gone back to basics, having ditched the pomposity and feathery epaulettes of 3rd album Day and Age. Brandon and co opted for a more mature, at-ease sort of approach – though they can pull off showiness, they looked much more at home in leather jackets.
And indeed the emphasis was really on a kind of homecoming, and on a sense that the music from their new album Battle Born was the sort of the music they envisaged themselves making from the beginning – old-fashioned American rock that tells stories about life. After a long time away, they were playing with passion and fire again, Brandon Flowers’ strong vocals carrying the band along on waves of synthesisers, guitars and emotion. It felt as if all of their music (not just the new, more emotionally-rooted songs) mattered to them and should to us, more so than has come across before.
Speaking of passion and fire, the band immediately wrongfooted the audience by opening with the anthemic ‘Mr Brightside’, which succeeded no end in whipping the crowd into a frenzy. This led into new track ‘The Way It Was’, which slowed the pace before old favourite ‘Smile Like You Mean It’. But it was only when Flowers playfully introduced ‘Spaceman’ by saying “let’s take things up a few markers” that the show really came alive, with the foursome then powering through a set that included both old crowd-pleasers like ‘Somebody Told Me’ and new single-worthy songs like ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’.
Although there was plenty of bang for your buck here in terms of rockier songs (the insanely danceable ‘Human’, an explosive ‘When You Were Young’, and a confetti-laden, appropriately soulful ‘All These Things I’ve Done’), the band were just as much at home with the slower material, such as new track ‘Here With Me’. Frontman Brandon Flowers brilliantly built up to ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ by talking about how he had found that each place in the UK, and the world, has its own “special flavour”.
Flowers’ rapport with the audience was one of the set’s many strengths, with him continually getting close to the crowd (even shaking hands with the front row near the end), and lengthening songs so that he could muse on life out loud to the audience, which gave a welcome human aspect to the concert. The visuals were also spectacular, with the onstage screen lit up by dazzling stars and nebulae during ‘Spaceman’, red neon lights during an impassioned rendition of ‘Runaways’, and many more displays over the course of the concert.
The main strength of this set was that it managed to bring the best out of the tentative new material with the tried-and-tested arena fillers. The new material acted at some points to slow the pace, and at others it completely clicked with the rockier vibe that The Killers sometimes play to: ‘From Here On Out’ being an example.
So on that score, the band succeeded – their recent material shows how they have evolved, and encouragingly it’s a mix of everything that has made them great thus far. The absurdly catchy rubbed shoulders with the serious, whilst guitar-rock was continually swapped with synth-pop, and no matter which they chose, they remained engaging throughout. The quality of their live shows was never in dispute, and this gig only reaffirms their stratospheric status. You couldn’t help but be a victim of their enthusiasm and infectious spirit and wish that they had played for even longer.
Alex has been listening to Muse – The 2nd law: isolated system