The Killers review – anthemic XL rock goes from epic to even more epic

Estimated read time 2 min read

When the Killers headlined the NME indie rock tour in 2005, singer Brandon Flowers’ shocking pink jacket gave an early hint of the Las Vegas ensemble’s showbiz leanings. Nineteen years of massive success later, there are lasers, ticker tape cannons, jaw-dropping lighting and graphics, and the band perform on a diamond-shaped stage in front of huge films of the American desert and constellations. The singer’s latest suit – glittery black, shimmering like the sky at night – is restrained by comparison.

With guitarist Dave Keuning fully ensconced again after a hiatus, the band “from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” set the pace with a series of big hitters. Somebody Told Me and Smile Like You Mean It are met with seas of swaying arms and audience-assisted “whoah whoah”s, while Flowers quips that 2008’s laser-boosted Spaceman was written “before it was acceptable to believe in aliens”. Still only 42, with his herculean bellow and array of natty stage moves, the fresh-faced frontman comes over like a cross between a young Elvis Presley and a fairground compere. “We didn’t come here to pacify. We came here to electrify!” he yells before a relatively stripped down The Man, which brings a classy touch of Roxy Music to their anthemic XL rock.

Powerhouse … Ronnie Vannucci Jr performing at Co-Op Live.View image in fullscreen

With drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr a complete powerhouse, this show has two gears: epic and even more epic. While a bit more light and shade wouldn’t be unwelcome, there’s a touching personal moment when Flowers talks about the premature death of his mother and gets the 23,500-strong crowd to hold up phones for people we have lost. The show must go on, of course, but A Dustland Fairytale and Be Still are accordingly emotional. They save the biggest singalongs – All the Things That I Have Done, When You Were Young, Human and the ubiquitous Mr Brightside – for a triumphant home run, but Flowers twice has the concern and presence of mind to stop the entire show for audience members to receive medical attention. Within this eye-popping Vegas extravaganza there is a human heart.

At Co-Op Live, Manchester, on 19, 21 and 22 June. Then touring.


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