The Killers: Brixton Carling Academy, London; Sunday, November 26
It’s onwards and upwards for the Vegas boys, as album number two proves just as epic live as number one
Adulation. Adoration. Umpteen million in album sales. A Jedi craves not these things, but Brandon Flowers is no Jedi. While bands such as The Horrors thrive on their polarising approach to, well, just about everything, there’s something refreshingly honest about The Killers’ desire to be unconditionally loved by everyone. Reading their interviews, you can even sense genuine bemusement on their part that everyone doesn’t already. To be fair, you can sort of see their point; back at the tail-end of 2003, they were, along with Franz Ferdinand, the indie tipsters’ band du jour, and in their defence, they’ve never really deviated from the path that put them there. Sure, there have been some fashion disasters along the way, but The Killers circa 2006 are essentially still the same band you fell in love with upon that first listen to ‘Mr Brightside’ way back when.
However, five million people buying your first album can do funny things to a band. The downside is that, by virtue of numbers alone, your credibility evaporates. The upside is that you can play gigs like this. A good 20 minutes before the band get anywhere near the stage, Brixton Academy is united in a giant, lighters-aloft singalong to ‘Let It Be’. When they actually do arrive onstage Brandon, looking dapper in Bond-esque eveningwear, is barely audible over the sound of thousands hollering along to ‘Sam’s Town’.
Tonight’s set comprises pretty much the entirety of the second album and a few choice cuts from ‘Hot Fuss’, but you’d never see the join between the two records. You may as well start memorising the words for ‘Bling (Confession Of A King)’ and ‘My List’ right now in preparation for next year’s festivals, because they’re going to sound huge. ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘Uncle Jonny’, meanwhile, are beer-throwing, shoe-losing riots waiting to happen if the reaction they garner tonight is anything to go by. In fact, so strong is the new material, it makes ‘Hot Fuss’ sound rather stale and over-familiar by comparison, save for a truly rabble-rousing version of ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, which you sense will close every Killers show from now until the wraparound shades and sue-your-stylist-over-headwear years.
Of course, the cynics will snigger that only The Killers, with their insatiable desire to be loved, would have the gall to attempt two encores – a haunting ‘Exitlude’ ultimately plays out the night – but on this occasion, few would deny that they’re deserving of it. They may never get their critical due until they reach baldness and elder statesmen status, but until then they can comfort themselves with the fact that while you might not be able to please all of the people all of the time, you can come pretty close to it.