Their guitarist and bassist are missing these days, yet precisely nobody seems to mind.
At the start of main set closer ‘All These Things I’ve Done’, The Killers held the opening note for an absurdly long time. Like Stewart Lee repeating a joke until it’s tedious and then so often it’s hilarious again, it was a brilliant way to tease an audience. By what felt like the fifth minute of that same note refusing to let the song start properly, the big screen captures Brandon Flowers laughing his head off with touring guitarist Taylor Milne.
When the tension is finally released, it makes the resulting singalong even more intense than it would have been. And that’s one reason why The Killers are still worthy of headlining festivals after 15 years.
In The Killers’ recent NME Big Read interview, Flowers lamented the demise of Razorlight and the inclusion of ‘Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll’ is another reminder of just how much of an Anglophile indie kid he’ll always be at heart. Maybe the ultimate example of his fetish is the way The Killers are aping Oasis’ indifference to band members.
Yes, guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer are absolutely, definitely, 100% still members of The Killers. But neither of them have bothered to turn up for touring duties of last year’s not-half-bad-actually ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ and their absence isn’t felt a jot, in the same way nobody refused to buy an Oasis ticket once Alan White was no longer behind the drumkit. “Come, don’t come, we’re still going to give the people what they want” is clearly Flowers and stalwart drummer Ronnie Vannucci’s message.
Extra intrigue marks to live guitarist Ted Sablay, who leaps off his monitors in a manner that suggests he’d love to be a full-time rock star, thanks very much.
Sometimes a twitchy, slightly distant stadium frontman, Flowers in his sparkly pink jacket is at his most relaxed, winking and grinning at anyone in the front rows he can make eye contact with. Introducing ‘Spaceman’, Flowers explains The Killers’ live ethos thus: “The great stunt driver Evel Knievel said ‘People don’t buy tickets to see me complete the jumps. They come to see me try my hardest.’ And tonight, I promise we’ll try our hardest.” Sure enough, most of their set is that bit more entertaining than it needed to be, from the moment a confetti canon goes off at the very start of the show.
It helps that the show starts with ‘The Man’ – this long into their career and The Killers have finally written the louche, OTT and above all fun anthem that should always start their concerts. Only their cover of Dire Straits’ interminable soft rocker ‘Romeo And Juliet’ is out of place. It’s been an occasional in their show since 2007 and it’s never welcome. Like the original, it’s hollow and pompous, showing the self-indulgent side that resulted in ‘Battle Born’.
Flowers and Vannucci have implied they want to get back in the studio as quickly as possible, to avoid another five year wait for the album. You suspect at some point an eye-watering documentary in the vein of Metallica’s ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ is to be made about life in such a dysfunctional band. Do the 50,000 people here care about that? Not while they’re going feral to ‘Mr Brightside’ they don’t.
The Killers’ setlist was:
Somebody Told Me
The Way It Was
Run For Cover
Smile Like You Mean It
For Reasons Unknown
Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll
Tyson Vs Douglas
Romeo And Juliet
Read My Mind
All These Things I’ve Done
When You Were Young