Trust The Killers to offer a dopamine hit of singalongs and thrilling communal catharsis when we need it the most. “We’ve been through a few long, hard years of isolation,” frontman Brandon Flowers said on stage in Madrid last night (July 7), referring to how, er, a world-altering pandemic meant that the last Mad Cool Festival took place way back in 2019.
“Tonight, this is a super-spreader event,” he continued, his COVID-referencing joke salvaged by a knowing wink that could send anyone’s heart racing. “But instead, we’re only spreading peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll!”
- READ MORE: The Killers at Mad Cool 2022: “Our new song ‘Boy’ is in the gutter, looking at the stars”
Taking to Mad Cool’s main stage for a celebratory headline slot, the band stuck to Flowers’ mission statement by delivering a steady and increasingly euphoric stream of classics throughout. Even an extended solo from drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. after ‘Mr Brightside’ won a rapturous applause, while more recent material such as ‘Caution’ and ‘Dying Breed’ straddled both tenderness and thrills with consistent builds that resulted in electrifying choruses. “Glorious!” yelled Flowers after ‘Read My Mind’, and it truly was.
Here’s how The Killers delivered the indie disco of our dreams at Mad Cool 2022.
It was a full-blown party from the word go
The Killers aren’t fans of minimalism. Before Flowers even sung a single note of the band’s stomping opener ‘The Man’, they brought out the big guns by treating the crowd to bursts of fiery pyro, while confetti cannons sprung into action. It felt impossible not to give yourself over to both the theatrical and audio-visual bombardment.
‘Human’ was updated with an electro-pop sheen
Ever wondered what a collaboration between electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk and The Killers would sound like? Well, we may have been offered a glimpse into that wild dream. As the pounding beats of early hit ‘Human’ began to hack away, a retina-bustlingly bright graphic reading ‘Somos Humanos?’ [Are we human?] lit up the screen, before the band descended into a spiralling synth breakdown. Feedback loops fizzled and popped, making for a brilliantly futuristic reworking of a driving rock belter that’s stood the test of time.
Brand new Killers music received its live debut
Last night’s 16-song extravaganza spanned the group’s 20-year career, and sprung some surprises, too. Last year the band told NME that they had begun working on a “heavier” follow-up to 2021’s ‘Pressure Machine’, and, at Mad Cool, we received the first taste of that forthcoming material. After playing the thumping new track ‘Boy’, Flowers asked the crowd, “Si or no?”. Thousands immediately responded with the former and waves of applause.
The anthems still sounded as huge as ever
From ‘Somebody Told Me’, to ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, the set peaked regularly with big, bold choruses that have withstood almost two decades. “I know we’re at a festival, but you’re making us feel like we’re at our own gig tonight,” Flowers said while punching the air after rattling through the powerful call-and-response section of the latter song. As Flowers continued to stir up the crowd, wriggling his hips and extending his arms towards them, the audience paid him back in word-for-word singalongs.
The Killers made up for lost time
The Killers had been locked in to headline Mad Cool in 2020 before the shit hit the fan, and the sense of occasion – a long-awaited celebration of both the band’s legacy and the festivals ethos of togetherness – wasn’t lost on them. “Thank you for giving us this job,” offered Vannucci Jr. as the band left the stage. The pleasure will always be ours, lads.
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NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022