Music review: The Killers, Wembley Stadium, London - Brandon Flowers looks on Mr Brightside
Monday 24 June 2013
Lasers, fireworks and confetti cannons: all are regularly deployed by rock bands aiming to make a stadium-sized impact and for their biggest gig yet Las Vegas's prime entertainers use them all, but debuting a song about tonight's event? That has to be a novelty.
In a remarkably playful ditty for such an earnest group, Brandon Flowers references 1966's World Cup heroes to huge cheers before listing the acts that have previously graced this venue – everyone from the Stones to Green Day - before adding “Tonight you can put our name on that list.” Such tub-thumping is more typical, at least from their frontman, but does reflect a devotion to UK pop culture that has helped them develop such a large following here.
"Wembley Song" is a rare surprise in a set that while short on stadium-sized imagination certainly shows the Nevada foursome's ability to command the largest of stages – fist-pumping to their crowd-pleasing anthems reaches back to the bowl's far side. The Killers have headlined the most prestigious festivals since 2007, a year after the dusty Springsteen-influenced rock of second album Sam's Town proved their sudden rise was no fluke. Rising to this new challenge, Ronnie Vannucci emphasises every beat with Dave Grohl-style grimaces, Mark Stoermer on bass exudes stern focus and even inscrutable guitarist Dave Keuning throws some rock-god shapes.
Still, this leaves the group's tanned Action Man singer with much weight to carry. For two hours he remains the gleeful, perma-smiling host, with an impressive, full-throttle vocal. His calm authority, though, undermines his songs' underdog, outsider stance. Numbers from last year's fourth album Battle Born, notably the title track and "Here With Me", feel underwhelming, all Jim Steinman dramaturgy meets U2 bluster, lacking a compelling sense of narrative or detail.
Yet these odd missteps fail to jackknife The Killers' rolling juggernaut. While Flowers's recent writing may not repay close attention, his group know how to make the songs' dynamics work writ large. An indefatigable dance-music pulse runs from a pulsing "Miss Atomic Bomb" through the eccentric "Human" to an exuberant "Somebody Told Me". Elsewhere, the road-movie operatics come good on an explosive "A Dustland Fairytale".
Despite the thunder-clapping pyrotechnics, tonight is more smooth Airstream ride than sonic storm, at least until they close with a ragged, punky "Mr Brightside". At last the emotion seems to get to Flowers, who lets on that he appreciates this transatlantic love-in, an outsider that has found a home.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Three million books were judged by their covers - this is what happened
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
No Escape, film review: Thriller generates plenty of excitement but soon collapses
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Spanish town saved by botched restoration of century-old Christian 'Ecce Homo' fresco of Jesus
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be