A night gilded with unadulterated pizzazz was the perfect showcase of one of the world’s very best indie-rock bands.
Despite the four-piece being from Las Vegas, Nevada it seems that The Killers have witnessed themselves become national treasures, largely as a result of their 2006 Glastonbury headline set. As such it came as no surprise to me when I was deafened in one ear by the shrieking of a sold-out O2 Arena as Brandon Flowers and co. strutted onto the stage.
In typical The Killers fashion, the stage was adorned with all the glitz and glam that has been so long associated with the indie-rock icons. A barrage of fluorescent lights and a central staircase that lead up to Ronnie Vanucci Jr. on drums appeared to be a clear homage to the affluence of their native Las Vegas home. From bursting onto the set with an exuberant rendition of ‘Wonderful Wonderful’, it was clear that frontman Brandon Flowers was on peak form, and this was to continue throughout the night. Despite essentially only half of the band being present, with Mark Stoermer and Dave Keuning absent, The Killers still embodied the clean-cut stylishness that has allowed them to push the boundaries of indie-rock into a mainstream appreciation.
I think it’s fair to say that the crowd were somewhat overly-anticipating the night’s headliners after a rather mediocre supporting set from Juanita Stein, but that only served to elevate the immense nature of Flowers’ performance skills. Rattling through a set that was embellished with an array of household hits and almost-forgotten B-sides, The Killers faithful were treated with experiencing a band that was on top form, exemplifying live music at its absolute pinnacle. Performing ‘The Man’ from their 2017 album ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ followed by crowd favourites ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Spaceman’ the set was an elegant mix of the classics and the new, with the new album seamlessly sliding into the live performance as if it had been present for years. Every time the band pulled out another banger from their deep back catalogue it almost came as a surprise that the band had such an abundance. Even with the lack of ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ or ‘Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll’ it is virtually impossible to justify removing another song from the near-perfect setlist. In a night that refused to dip from the high, unrelenting energy epitomised by the pure passion of Flowers and Vanucci, the ever-humble frontman quoted Hemingway stating “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self” before erupting into a flawless performance of ‘For Reasons Unknown’.
In an arena where a band can often be lost amongst the vast space and sheer size of the O2, The Killers expertly held the audience in the palm of their hands. As I looked around at the seats from my position at the barrier I could see the North Greenwich crowd constantly up on their feet, coming together as one voice blasting out classics such as ‘Human’, ‘Runaways’ and ‘When You Were Young’. With Flowers conducting his band through a surprise personal favourite ‘Romeo and Juliet’, covering the legendary Dire Straits, it is hard to pinpoint a climax to the night, for the band maintained such a consistently elevated enthusiasm. To cap off the dazzling night, Flowers returned for the encore in a gold Elvis-like suit, his face painted to match, gyrating to a crowd wild with elation. As the gig came to a close, it came as no shock that The Killers burst into the ever-illustrious ‘Mr Brightside’. The only song to have been played at every single The Killers gig was met with the expected raucous, a much better way to listen to it than in your typical stingy nightclub. Jesters, eat your heart out.
The Killers finish their UK tour with a second night at the O2 Arena on 28th November.