A gig in a city described as the band’s ‘musical spiritual home’ is always going to be special, and so it proves as Las Vegas’ finest The Killers visit Manchester for two long sold-out shows.

The past year has been a rather good one for The Killers, with their live tickets selling at the usual light-speed standard and more importantly for their long-term future, releasing their best LP in a decade. The success of fifth album ‘Wonderful Wonderful’, their strongest set since 2006's ‘Sam’s Town’, finds the Nevada outfit in the similar, highly enviable position of groups such as Depeche Mode and Radiohead (albeit less obtuse) of being a cult act who sell millions of records and fill arenas.

Online forums obsess over the band’s lyrics (check out the ‘Murder Trilogy’ theory about the band’s early output), the group’s videos are debated at length for their visual links to earlier works, and their secret Glastonbury set broadcast on the BBC was the definition of riotous.

The first territory to take the group to heart and where they remain most popular, The Killers’ current UK arena trek takes in an impressive 14 dates, a refreshing contrast to the ‘will this do?’ schedule of many bands satisfied with a few summer stadium gigs.

In keeping with the ‘doing things properly’ theme, it seems that their first US number one album has persuaded the record company to give them a larger tour support budget. Clearly the money has been well spent, as their arrival onstage is signalled by a large light installation slowly rising to reveal the players as they assemble one by one, as the portentous intro to 'Wonderful Wonderful’s title track booms from the PA.

Touring with their most elaborate stage set to date, the stage features a mini water tower, illuminated drum riser, a large-scale screen as stage backdrop and double video screens. Even with all the surrounding scenery, lead singer Brandon Flowers has blossomed into an effective frontman - like Mick Jagger, his presence seems to dwarf the surroundings, his voice truly a thing of wonder, filling every corner of the Arena.

With Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci the only original members of the quartet undertaking the tour, the Nevada crew appear as a seven-strong live act. Dissolving into the shadows, the sidemen include Ted Sablay, a decade long Killers tour veteran, multi-instrumentalist Taylor Milne from Ronnie’s Big Talk side project plus Cousin Itt-level hirsute bassist Jake Blanton.

One of the band’s best 45s to date, comeback single ‘The Man’, played second here, sees almost the entire venue rise to their feet, as the gospel inflections of three female backing singers make the most of the track. The New Wave bounce of ‘Spaceman’ gives way to the thrilling rush of ‘Run For Cover’, which alongside the impassioned narrative of ‘Tyson vs. Douglas’ about the heavyweight’s shock 1990 defeat showcase just how strong the new album is.

A group who breathe the rarefied air of having released one ‘Best Of’ compilation and look well on the way to having enough material to fill a second one, it’s easy to forget just how many hits the Vegas band have pumped out over the past 13 years. While the bangers and key album cuts are all present and correct, Flowers and Vannucci skilfully counterbalance these with a sprinkling of deep cuts to sate the appetite of the most hardcore Killers fan. ‘I Can’t Stay’ proves superior live to its oddball cabaret studio arrangement, while ‘This River Is Wild’ showcases its popularity as a fan favourite.

A moving acoustic rendition of ‘Be Still’, dedicated to victims of the terror attacks that claimed the lives of Arena gig-goers in May, is illuminated by thousands of mobile phone lights that resemble fireflies. A triple-bill of sure-fire crowd pleasers sees the group hit the final stretch, with the lung busting ‘Runaways’ and synth pop missive ‘Read My Mind’ before one of the band’s greatest anthems, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ which garlands the audience with confetti at its denouement.

Kicking off a four-song encore, recent cut ‘The Calling’ underlines how Flowers can now call his antecedents contemporaries when it comes to stagecraft. A track that bears close kinship to ‘Mode classic ‘Personal Jesus’, the singer performs some Dave Gahan-esque messianic tropes, while his glitter suit references Bono’s MacPhisto character from U2’s mid-1990s Zoo TV Tour, which recast The Devil as a world-weary nightclub singer.

A ropey PA mix delivers a slightly muddy rendition of ‘Hot Fuss’ curveball ‘Believe Me, Natalie’ that is greeted with the rock concert equivalent of cricket match applause, largely due to its place in the running order rather than the quality of the song. The dramatic opening chord of colossal Springsteen-esque rocker ‘When You Were Young’ played next immediately energises the crowd before the inevitable closer.

When you have a song that has shifted almost two million copies in the UK alone up your sleeve, you understandably want to play that card last. The near-delirious cheer that goes up when ‘Mr. Brightside’ begins is followed by 20,000 people drowning out Flowers’ vocals with a word-perfect rendition to bring the set to a climax. A masterclass in how to do large-scale gigs properly all round, to return to the new album, does the accompanying live show match its title? Absolutely. So they good they named it twice in fact.










Related Links:

http://www.thekillersmusic.com/
https://twitter.com/thekillers
https://www.facebook.com/Thekillers


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