Finally getting round to posting this review which first appeared on Goldenplec where I'm a Sub-editor. It's been a crazy journey with this review, thanks to Debbie Hickey's "Killer-Lego" photography which yielded Scandinavian press interest, Mexican DJ retweets, and even some press coverage in The Killers home town of Las Vegas. Thanks also to all the lovely folks back home in Ireland who also embraced it.
A sold out O2 saw a master class in arena rock when rejuvenated Las Vegas quartet The Killers brought their ‘Battle Born World Tour’ to Dublin. Brandon Flowers and co delivered a career spanning 20 song set of hit singles, and tracks from their critically acclaimed comeback album ‘Battle Born’.
Commencing with a rousing rendition of Mr Brightside, Flowers quickly set the tone for what was to follow, as he vigorously strided the stage, air-drumming and urging the crowd on with hand gestures and platitudes such as “It’s good to be home.” There was no “Hello Shelbyville” moment as Flowers successfully negotiated the lead-singer conundrum of where am I? With repeated references to “Dublin” throughout the show with even a brief mention for “picketing” (Garda). There was even time for a cringe worthy recital of Dublin’s motto “The obedience of the citizens produces a happy city.” But Flowers just about pulled it off by countering it with, “the motto of our town is ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’” much to the delight of the crowd.
The Way It Was quickly illustrated the musical journey which the Killers have undertaken since their début album ‘Hot Fuss’ was released in 2004. It’s a perilous journey from synth heavy faux-Brit New Wav pop to dust-bowl rockers, but it would seem that the band have finally managed to realign; the purity of their intent, with the quality of their output. Standing on the shoulder of legends like Bruce Springsteen; The Killers have successfully carved themselves a niche in the open-road songbook of America
A clever set list meant that material from ‘Hot Fuss’ or ‘Battle Born’ were never more than a song or so away, ensuring the crowd were always engaged, however songs such as Bling, Spaceman, and For Reasons Unknown didn’t seem out-of-place, or lacking in quality, nestled between hits, such as, Smile Like You Mean It, Human, and Somebody Told Me. On the basis of tonight’s performance the much maligned material in-between critical success warrants re-examination.
As the hits rolled on, the on-stage antics got more and more rock’n’roll as fireworks exploded and glitter fell from the sky. Flowers even attempted the patented Elvis arm-roll at one point, but for all his theatrics, between song monologues, and instrument hoping, the most impressive thing about his performance was his voice, which is surprisingly strong and agile, but also capable of subtle inflexions. A mini cover version of U2’s With Or Without You prior to Read My Mind proved his voice can mix it with established rock Gods.
Unfortunately for The Killers a small fight broke out in the crowd prompting Brandon Flowers to halt proceedings mid-song and have the offenders thrown out of the building. Although this was undoubtedly the right thing to do, it set back the momentum of the show for a while. However, a rousing version of All These Things That I have Done closed the first section of the show beautifully, with the entire audience singing along as if their lives depended on it.
A three song encore of Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, When You Were Young, and Battle Born enraptured the crowd. The Who-esque chord changes rattled the rafters, while fireworks exploded and the last remaining pieces of glitter fell to the ground, as the band rocked through an extended outro of Battle Born. While Flowers left the stage to shake hands with the front row of the crowd. It was a fitting way to end the night. The Killers seem determined to return to the upper echelons of rock’n’roll and with live shows like this they have more than a fighting chance,