It takes a band with a monumental catalogue, and cajones to match, to start a festival headline set with their biggest song.
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So when The Killers “from fabulous Las Vegas” take to the stage at Bilbao BBK and immediately strike up the high-wire arpeggio that opens ‘Mr Brightside’, it’s with the confidence of a multitude of Macrons. That they follow it with ‘Somebody Told Me’ just two songs later upends the accepted method of festival headlining – tonight The Killers open with the encore, knowing they have the melodic fuel in the tank to keep up this breakneck pace for ninety more minutes.
One Wembley Stadium and a bona fide Glastonbury-stealing secret set under their belts, Flowers, Kuening, Vannucci and associates (bassist Mark Stoermer is only a studio Killer these days) have never looked cockier. Witness new single ‘The Man’, sounding more like their ‘Fashion’ than their ‘Stayin’ Alive’ when filthied up live and encompassing their cocksure new attitude; Brandon plays the chest-puffed Vegas high-roller strutting across the stage to ‘Sledgehammer’ slap bass and delicious disco grooves pouting “I’m the man, nothing can break me down”. Where he might previously have aspired to the showmanship of his stadium rock heroes (U2, Depeche Mode, etc.), he’s now comfortable in his own on-stage skin, happy to be counted alongside them.
There’s a renewed sense of identity and purpose to The Killers too – in their new guise as 80s MOR Goliaths they pump ‘The Way It Was’ to an epic chorus the equal of any 80s blockbuster theme power ballad, and it’s been a while since they revelled in their alternative roots with a storming, celebratory quake through Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll complete with touches of Arctic Monkeys riffs. As ‘Read My Mind’ and ‘Runaways’ tee up a phenomenal ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ that probably lifts Bilbao BBK’s mountain an extra few feet during the gospel crescendo. It all ends with what we’ll call encore two – ‘When You Were Young’ hammered out with the gutsiness of a band who know they’re world-beaters.