Words: Conal Cunningham
Back in the U.K after a long five-year wait, Brandon Flowers and the Killers ooze confidence and pizazz to an adoring Liverpool crowd. After a troubling and tumultuous period where the band received “group therapy” sessions to resolve unspoken rifts, bassist Mark Stoermer and guitarist Dave Keuning have provisionally retired from touring, and three members of the band have embarked upon solo albums, the band still pack a heavy punch with a catalogue of classics infused with instant hits from a fifth consecutive U.K album number one with ‘Wonderful Wonderful’.
For most bands, two absent band members would spell the beginning of the end, but the maturity of the band – perhaps due to the experience of remaining as a top-bill arena band since extraordinarily successful 2004 debut ‘Hot Fuss’ – enabled the members to play a rejuvenated part of studio sessions. This left the touring to front-man Flowers, drummer Ronnie Vanucci, long-time touring musician Jake Blanton, and other touring musicians including three additional women backing singers – which give the live experience an extra level of dynamism.
The show itself is a marvel that few experienced arena bands can pull off, striking visuals and lights complement each bombastic song with a setlist that excites all ages of the crowd, with classics such as ‘Spaceman’, ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’ executed flawlessly amid newer packer-punched tracks such as ‘The Man’ and politically minded ‘Run for Cover’. The matured nature of the Killers is highlighted with the unexpected beefed up brilliance of Joy Division’s gloomy ‘Shadowplay’ along with excellent slow-burner of new track ‘Rut’, with the picture of Flowers’ wife Tana emblazoned on the arena screens. Flowers has been open with fans, writing honest and arduous songs, with ‘Rut’ explaining his wife’s “complex PTSD”, with poignant lyrics such as “Don’t give up on me/ ‘Cause I’m just in a rut/ I’m climbing but the walls keep stacking up”, giving the Killers a more resonating and accessible level; openly speaking about difficult issues in a time of socially overcoming the stigma of mental health.
As a front-man, Flowers laments his place as one of the most exciting of his generation. He is enigmatic as he charismatically manoeuvres his way up and down the stage with his effortless Las Vegas charm. His voice is faultless throughout the gig and you can see the sheer ecstasy in his face as songs such as the exhilarating one-two of ‘Read My Mind’ into ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ is incessantly reverberated around the arena. The Killers may get unfairly classified with only their insanely popular noughties hit ‘Mr. Brightside’, but as this closer brings the whole arena on their feet in echoes of its chorus, the tracks seemingly eternal popularity is understandable. Even with two band members down, the Killers prove they are much more than just ‘Mr. Brightside’; they are in it for the long run, and the excitement doesn’t seem to be slowing down just yet.