Once upon a time, I was very confused as to why Rosianna would buy tickets to see The Killers on multiple successive nights; it’s safe to say that, after going to one of their Wonderful Wonderful tour gigs, I’m no longer confused at all. Five years to the day after their last visit to the city, the band graced Liverpool once again with their incredible presence and they were amazing, to the point that, as I was leaving the venue, I dearly wished I could come back the next night and do it all again. If I had a Time Turner to hand, I would have used it. Trying to convey how good they were will probably fall short of the reality, and I’m not exactly a music connoisseur, but for my own (and posterity’s) sake, I’ve decided to do a “review” of the gig. Because I can’t not.
But, first, a shout-out must be given to their support act on the tour – Alex Cameron. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t heard a thing about the bloke, or his music, before that night, and I hadn’t been savvy enough to listen to him before I went to the gig. In some ways, I wish I had, because as I slowly meandered amongst the crowd and caught the last couple of songs in his set, his music certainly sounds like something I would enjoy. Dancing around the stage in an approximation of Mick Jagger and Jarvis Cocker, he genuinely seemed beyond thrilled to be performing and supporting The Killers and, sometimes, that’s all you need for a performer to win you over. I’ll definitely be looking out for his music in the future. Now to the main act…
Having seen The Killers on music and entertainment shows, and catching their amazing surprise Glastonbury set this year on TV, I always knew they were a band I’d like to see live if I had the chance and they toured again. Et voila… the Wonderful Wonderful tour was announced shortly after their overwhelmingly well-received Glasto set. It was unsurprising, and with the album release set for October, I snapped up tickets when I could. I won’t get into what happened there – basically, I got tickets for the Manchester gig, then they announced a Liverpool date, but, thankfully, I managed to pass my tickets onto someone who wanted to go to the Manchester date and had missed out on tickets first time. In fact, as I write up this review, she should be at the gig right now – I hope she’s having as fun a time as I did at Liverpool Echo Arena.
I will admit, on first listen, I wasn’t blown away by Wonderful Wonderful as an album. It can’t be denied that The Man is a tune and a half, just full of enough bravado and cockiness to be self-aware and sing-along-worthy because of it, but aside from that, none of the other songs immediately grabbed me like, say, the first listen through of Hot Fuss did all those years ago. Much as I try not to judge an album until I’ve heard it a few times, I would say please don’t judge Wonderful Wonderful until you’ve heard the band perform it live because it comes alive on-stage. The title track in particular sings when used as the opening song to a gig, as they did in Liverpool. The set was chock-a-block with The Killers previous hits and some old fan favourites, as well as their new material – the balance was perfectly struck, and I definitely felt very satisfied that they’d covered all bases for every era of The Killers fans.
The staging and backdrop was every single bit as over-the-top as I hoped it would be – giant video screens behind the band played shots of landscapes and scenery as the bright lights swept across the stage and the audience in alternating colours. Silly string, confetti canons, and party streamers were used to full effect, much to the delight of those of us standing on the arena floor. Tucked in stage-right, a water tower stood proudly bearing the name of that night’s city, something which Brandon went over and tapped mid-song, quite a cute moment and an easy way to win the city’s affections, if they hadn’t already.
Front-man Brandon Flowers is a showman, there’s no doubt about that. He had the entire crowd eating out of the palm of his hand every single minute of the band’s set, from the first loud chant of “motherless child, rescue rescue” of Wonderful Wonderful to the show-ending/encore-prompting “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” of All These Things That I’ve Done, to the encore-closing song involving a very drunk (but enthusiastic) crowd wailing “I neverrrrr” of Mr Brightside. Part of The Killers‘ widespread appeal is the approachable nature of their songs – every almost catatonic drunk person can still manage to slur out every word of Somebody Told Me, in fact the intoxication might help improve their singing tone. I was standing in an audience with people in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, couples and people on their own, firm friends, and people who became friends over the course of the gig.
One of my favourite moments during gigs is when otherwise repressed men who’ve spent the first ten minutes holding their pints in plastic glasses and enjoying the band with a very subdued head-bob, suddenly get into the gig and, before you know it, they’re yelling along every word to every song like they wanted to, their pint is sloshing everywhere as they ‘dad dance’ with gusto, and they’re draping themselves over total strangers who were looking equally repressed themselves only ten minutes ago. It’s a rare moment of complete abandon, of connection with other people, of genuinely not giving a fuck and just enjoying life in that moment. I’ve never been in a crowd in which that happened everywhere I looked, but that is what happened in the Echo when The Killers took to that stage.
I have never been in an audience like that, and I likely never will again. To describe the atmosphere as electric would do it a disservice – it was overwhelming and infectious and it was definitely a live-in-the-moment experience that it will be hard to replicate ever again. If you ever have the chance to catch The Killers when they tour, do it, you won’t regret it – the only regret you’ll have is, when you’re leaving the gig and you realise you can’t go back in time and do it all again.
To The Killers, thank you from the bottom of my overwhelmed heart for an amazing and truly unforgettable night. Guys, you are all incredible performers, and I hope Liverpool didn’t disappoint.