While the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations have been hogging the headlines, this past Friday and Saturday nights at the Emirates Stadium in North London, Brandon Flowers, the 40-year-old frontman for the Las Vegas band the Killers, expended the sort of energy over 90 minutes that might be expected of a top-class Premiership footballer. The two-night engagement, in front of approximately 65,000 fans on each occasion (as Kenneth Wolstenholme might have observed, “there are people on the pitch”), managed to avoid some potentially dodgy weather but there was never any danger of the group avoiding the inevitable conclusion to their performance – a rapturously greeted rendition of Mr Brightside.
This was the band’s Imploding the Mirage tour (see photo on the home page), which in its own way was dogged like the final of Euro 2020, which was in fact staged across North London at Wembley in July 2021. This gig was originally scheduled for spring 2020 but, as you will recall, Covid rather got in the way of that sort of thing. The release of their eponymous album was delayed a little, to August 2020, but the aftermath of the pandemic even left the group time to release another album – Pressure Machine in August 2021 – before they finally got this show on the road in the UK.
The UK tour is still proceeding as I write, with likely a similar set being played most evenings. I say similar, but not identical: on Friday we got Pressure Machine rather than the Runaway Horses they apparently had in Southampton, and the last two songs (pre encore!), Caution and All These Things That I’ve Done, were switched. A highlight for one fan was that his placard request to get on stage and play drums on For Reasons Unknown was granted, Flowers ushering him aboard.
The Killers had a pretty nifty support act: Sam Fender, whose two albums to date, Hypersonic Missiles and Seventeen Going Under, have both been received with crucial and commercial acclaim. Fender is a Geordie and he had appeared in photos in the previous day’s newspapers at a northeast pub with ageing rocker Jeff Beck (77 to Fender’s 28) and the actor Johnny Depp. In the wake of the latter’s recent court case with his ex-wife, Amber Heard, Fender rowed back on a social-media post describing them as ‘legends’. The extent of his social-media ‘shame’ probably remains to be seen.
Back to the Killers. They have released seven mainstream studio albums. It must say something that while five tracks were from Imploding the Mirage, the original premise for the tour, 12 were from their first three releases, five being from the first, the 2004 debut, Hot Fuss. Above all, of course, was Mr Brightside, the anthemic second song on that recording. It has been voted the best stadium rock song ever; it is streamed on average 1.2 million times a week; it has been in the UK’s top-100 for over the past six years. No other song comes close to matching that achievement. It’s hard to figure that on its initial release it didn’t chart at all. And if you have tickets for one of the remaining UK shows in Falkirk, Norwich and Manchester, you are in for an electrifyingly entertaining evening.