The Killers, Royal Albert Hall, London
The Fall, Hove Centre, Hove

The Killers' flirtation with U2 goes on, but at least they've lost the beards

It was always clear that the Killers were inspired by the British alt-pop groups of the 1980s: Smiths, Bunnymen, Duran Duran, Cure. What I never expected was for them to turn into U2, but with second album Sam's Town that's exactly what they did: grow beards, whack up the reverb, sing about Jesus and get Anton Corbijn to take the photos.

Following this logic, it looks as if they're hitting their Zoo TV phase. The Royal Albert Hall now counts as an intimate, boutique gig for the Killers, an index of their ascent. "This place is too pretty for us," Brandon Flowers disingenuously says, from a stage decked out in fairy lights and plastic palm trees, like the Sahara Hotel in their Las Vegas hometown. The beards, thankfully, have gone.

However, Brandon is no Bono, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If he were, his keyboard would be hidden not behind a giant silver letter K, but a giant silver B. Unusually for a rock star, Brandon Flowers is a quiet, private type with conservative views and leanings towards abstinence. On stage, where it counts, he's got what it takes to do the job.

This show, opening with new single "Human", is a Radio 1 gig to launch their third studio album, Day & Age. It's the successor to the motorist rock of Sam's Town, a record that left me cold but sold in its millions to Jeremy Clarkson viewers and Nuts readers. Hot Fuss was, and remains, one of this decade's most assured debuts, and gratifyingly, the three-note synth motif from "Smile Like You Mean It" is the first thing that really rattles those inverted mushrooms on the RAH roof.

Of the new material, the drama-pop of "Spaceman" stands out, as does "Losing Touch", driven by big, chunky power chords and Roxy sax. Best of all is the Duranny white funk of "Joy Ride", which whets the appetite for the Stuart Price-produced studio version, suggesting that while Day & Age may have its share of filler, there'll be more than one killer.

Twenty past 10 on a Sunday night, and someone finally says, "Mark's in the building." For the past hour, a VJ called Sniper has entertained fans with a distorted scratch video mash-up. Once again, he's waiting for the man. No Mark E Smith, no the Fall.

In the 32 years since the Fall – "Northern white crap that talks back", to quote their most famous lyric – formed amid the post-industrial decay of 1970s Manchester, they've shed more members than some bands acquire fans. Dave Simpson's extraordinary book The Fallen counts 45, but there have been more since it was completed. As Smith himself says on the dust jacket, "If it's me and yer granny on bongos, it's the Fall."

He's right. The Fall are as much an aesthetic standpoint as a band. Tonight it's him, his wife Elena Poulou on keyboards, plus Pete Greenway on guitar, and a couple of youngish suedeheads, Dave Spurr on bass and Keiron Melling on drums, who pack an appropriately muscular punch. This is the essential element of the Fall's primal rock'n'roll rumble: for all their locked Krautrock grooves and disjointed angularity, there's a case to be made that the Fall have always been, fundamentally, a rockabilly band.

Ominously, the band first appears without Smith, the vocals on the first track taken by actor Nick Mason, best known as one of the Happy Mondays in 24 Hour Party People. Then, out he wanders, an odd chap with greasy hair and a black leather coat, looking a lot like one of those little old men who hang around the bookies all day. His default expression is a shrewd, appraising stare, half-pout, half-squint, that exudes, in Simon Reynolds' brilliant phrase, "wizened insolence".

This is my first Fall gig in 15 years, and they're just how I left them: forbidding but inclusive, cerebral and physical, serious and ridiculous. Tonight's sub-60 minute set is dominated by the album Imperial Wax Solvent. There's a theory that whichever Fall album you happen to hear first will be your favourite. For those whose initiation coincided with the Fall's early 1980s prime, there's "Wings". For me it was 1988's The Frenz Experiment, from which tonight we get the absurdist classic "Carry Bag Man", the final choruses of which are sung by the audience, after Elena throws them the singer's abandoned mic. Mark E Smith has left the building.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
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.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'