“Thanks for gambling on us Glastonbury,” Brandon Flowers says with a knowing smirk, “I’ve a feeling we’re about to pay off.” The singer is certainly taking no gambles. After The Killers’ first Glastonbury headline set fell foul of noise restrictions, barring them from the set of legend they so richly deserved, he’s come with plenty of aces up his sleeve.
Not that he really needs them. The second the PA system doesn’t crackle dead at the opening chord of ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ – in fact, from where we’re standing, the sound is phenomenal – The Killers are already on a long-awaited victory lap. They make no reference to the volume disaster of 2007 because they know they’re about to wipe it clean out of Glastonbury history. ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Spaceman’ – far and away the best in alien abduction pop – are headline set rocket fuel, and once they reach cruising altitude not even that fact that ‘The Way It Was’ and ‘Shot At The Night’ suggest that they’ve been gradually infected with the soft rock virus and are at risk of turning into this generation’s Foreigner can dampen the celebrations.
Those extra six hundred shows or so since 2007 really show, confidence-wise. Brandon cockily dons a cowboy hat for a desert noir intro to ‘The Man’, declares drummer Ronnie Vannucci the next UK prime minister and even dares to tease the crowd with a solo piano intro of ‘Human’ before the band segue straight into a euphoric ‘Bling (Confessions Of A King)’, leaving a field full of dancer hanging. One-time Britpop impression ‘Glamourous Indie Rock And Roll’ has its Queen outro milked to a mountainous, Beatle-y degree and ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ begins as a poignant piano lament dedicated to Brandon’s late mother and swiftly turns titanic. And ‘Runaways’? With its last chance power drive through the tale of an absconding American deadbeat dad? Well, meet the new Boss…
As the main set closes with stratospheric runs through ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ and ‘When You Were Young’, The Killers have easily done enough to make amends for 2007 and join the roll-call of true Glastonbury legends, just like they did at Wembley Stadium that time. But they are not a band of half measures; they’re out to polish the jewels on their coronation crowns. So the encore becomes an opportunity for a beaming Brandon to relive a youth spent singing along to his favourite British acts in a variety of interesting accents.
First he tries out his clipped posh Brit alongside The Pet Shop Boys, who waft from the wings for ‘Always On My Mind’ and a full ‘Human’ (clearly a PSB tribute, now Neil Tennant is actually singing it in a big coat); then his fey Mancunian alongside Johnny Marr on ‘This Charming Man’, very nearly attempting a flick of the mic lead as if auditioning to be the new Morrissey. Because we could do with one.
A final ‘Mr Brightside’ seems almost superfluous, for such an essential set-closer. They rolled loaded dice, and we hit the jackpot. The Killers: whales of the rock’n’roll casino, at last.