The Killers, 02 Arena, London

Flowers' powers put to the test

Neither pouting in guyliner nor resplendent in a pink feather boa, the average Killers fan is a much changed beast these days.

Seen by many as more vacuous than Coldplay, more pompous than Razorlight, more self-consumed than U2, The Killers somehow find themselves the musical preserve of middle-Britain. If, as The Killers sing in Spaceman, aliens were to visit tonight, they’d find the O2 a Petri dish teeming with all walks of British life.

It wasn’t always like this. When The Killers first strutted onto the scene in 2004 they were hailed by many as the definitive indie-dance crossover band. Playing their hook-heavy pop and looking like The Strokes dandyish, less contagious cousins, they snared the nation’s teenagers, fast becoming the soundtrack to every student clubnight in the country.

Flirtations with facial hair and Bruce Springsteen on second album Sam’s Town ensured The Killers soon lost their ‘yoof appeal’, but it was only in November with the release of third album Day and Age, that the band made their final assault on the mainstream. They probably picked up 75 per cent of tonight’s audience in the process.

Kicking off their set with a volley of glitzy singles (Spaceman, Somebody Told Me, Smile Like You Mean It), The Killers electrify the O2 from the off. The sound is awesome, the perfect mix of stadium professionalism and punky spontaneity.

In contradiction with their effete image, drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr hits harder than most, forcing the whole band to play to their limits. It's a wonderful technique and single-handedly prevents The Killers from falling into the mid-paced monotony that so often ruins electro-pop gigs.

Prancing around the stage like the Mormon love-child of Bono and Billie Joe Armstrong, Brandon Flowers was made to perform in venues as large as this. No one else could introduce a song as being "about love, about sex, about hope, about dreams" and keep as straight a face as he. No one else could fling a dead pheasant on each shoulder and still be crowned Most Stylish Man at the 2008 GQ awards.

Five songs in and The Killers are riding unbelievably high. They've got the crowd on their side, they sound amazing and even their more vicious detractors couldn't fail to be impressed by the way they turn this cavernous venue into an intimate setting.

Then they start playing album tracks.

At the risk of sounding jingoistic, maybe we could blame their home town. Las Vegas is the home of gaudy excess, so when The Killers bring fake palm trees, neon lights and – gulp – a saxophonist on to the stage, perhaps they're just paying tribute to their heritage. Even if that is the case, it's still no excuse for a bloody bongo player.

For seven songs we have to sit through The Killers' frankly awful Duran Duran-isms on a stage that looks like Club Tropicana. The faux African rhythms clash unmercifully with the electrodes.

When The Killers have fought so hard to secure the mainstream vote, it's no wonder fans start wandering to the bar whenever they get experimental. Put simply, people don't really invest in a band like The Killers. Nobody is ever going to carve "Are we human or are we dancer" into their arm as they would have with The Smiths or The Libertines. As such, no Killers fan is interested in watching Brandon Flowers disappear up his own backside in a fog of dry ice and Campari.

By their muted response you can tell these fans need hits. After a time, they get them with "Mr Brightside", "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" and "When You Were Young" closing proceedings to a rapturous reception. With the crowd back on board, The Killers can do no wrong, but for a moment, amid spacemen and existential crises about their dancing ability, The Killers wobbled.

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?