The Killers: Empress Ballroom, Blackpool; Friday September 8

The Killers are back. And this time they mean business. Bigtime

Being the closest thing Britain has to Las Vegas, Blackpool is the perfect location for the first Killers show on these shores for over 12 months. Actually, Las Vegas doesn’t have anything anywhere near as good as the Pleasure Beach – although The Killers’ Radio 1-engineered return to the UK quickly develops into an event as monumental as Blackpool Tower.

No longer bothering himself too much with keyboard tinkering, thanks to the addition of new touring member Ted Sablay, Brandon Flowers strides on to the stage clad in a dazzling rock star-red jacket, as the band launch straight into the new material that the world has been waiting for. ‘Sam’s Town’ and ‘When You Were Young’ provide the first of many indications that The Killers are ditching their crowns as Kings Of The Indie Disco in favour of becoming tyrants of FM radio. They get one step closer to U2 with every new song they play – ‘Bling (Confession Of A King)’ and ‘Bones’ are instant rock anthems, grown from the roots of ‘The Joshua Tree’. Meanwhile, the mid-paced ‘Read My Mind’ is such an obvious hit they should be presented with an award now, hailing it to be the best selling single of 2007. It really is that much of a no-brainer.

Confident and assured though he looks, Flowers is still not quite the frontman he could be, and only briefly engages with the crowd by coyly admitting mid-set that he could do with some “training on how to talk to audiences”. Flowers might be a little way off Bono’s level of gravitas just now, but on the plus side, at least there’s no danger of him boring us to death.

If the response to the new material is overwhelming, the reaction to classics such as ‘Somebody Told Me’ and the toweringly brilliant ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ verges on the rabid. Even after the band have left the stage following the pre-encore finale of ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, the crowd carry on the refrain of “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” a cappella until a point of frenzy. More new songs follow with the REM-indebted ‘Uncle Jonny’ catching the ear in particular, and if The Killers split up tomorrow, immortality is still guaranteed for them through the magical ‘Mr Brightside’. And, as tonight’s selection of fresh meat proves, ‘Mr Brightside’ has got more siblings than anyone dared to imagine, all of which are begging to be adored in the same way. The Killers are back – the world’s stadiums don’t stand a chance.

Hardeep Phull

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