After walking off 4 songs in to their Manchester set and then cancelling their second date, The Killers stint at The O2 Arena looked dubious midweek when frontman Brandon Flowers lost his voice. It perhaps came as a surprise to everyone (myself included) when on Friday morning it was confirmed that their two day residency in London would go ahead as planned—a relief to those who had tickets and an ‘insult’ to those who had been due to see them in Manchester only 48 hours before.
Their set got off to a shaky start with a rather flat and worrying rendition of ‘A Matter of Time’ from latest album Battle Born; be that from nerves about Brandon’s voice or general show jitters, it was quickly overcome by an impressive back-to-back Hot Fuss moment of ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ which set the tone for the entire evening.
The set list was a generous mixture of new and old material; making sure that everyone heard at least a track from their favourite album. Surprisingly they took least material from Day & Age, sticking with the singles from the album of which ‘Human’ gathered the loudest reception.
‘Bling (Confessions of a King)’ was an unexpected and welcomed addition to the set list which had the more well-versed fans singing at the top of their lungs. Immediately after, The Killers broke out their first cover of the evening; Joy Divisions’ ‘Shadowplay’ which sounded just as unique and fresh as it did when it first appeared on Sawdust. More shockingly and perhaps braver, was their cover of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ which showed not only the band’s versatility but provided a truly phenomenal crowd reaction that rivalled when I saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds perform it a few months before.
Visually they didn’t aim to overpower, and it ended up being impressive as well as tasteful. The obligatory O2 green lasers made an appearance, but from my position further back in the arena, I have to finally concede that there is a point to them. There was also a liberal helping of confetti that rained down and a golden firework waterfall to mark the end of the set.
The highlight of the evening though came from the encore. The atmosphere during ‘Mr. Brightside’ was pure electric with the crowd drowning out The Killers at points — and the band looked completely thrilled by this. ‘Battle Born’, an unusually slow closer, was touching, sweet and let the crowd fall completely in love with a band who still are humble, genuine and looked like they couldn’t quite believe what was happening.
After 8 years of waiting for the opportunity to see The Killers, the show did not disappoint in the slightest. A mix of old and new material and impressive visuals and pyrotechnics for an indoor arena made it one of my live highlights of this year… I’ll be seeing them at Wembley next year for definite; you probably should too.