When you go and see something, and you want to remember it, there is nothing better than taking a picture, capturing it on video, and writing down how it made you feel. So, for posterity sake, I’ve decided to review The Killer’s performance at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on 9th November 2017. I say the show, it’s about the whole event, it’s probably once of the longest posts I have ever written, and it shows just how excited, happy, and blown away by the whole thing I actually was!
Let me start with a little about me and my music tastes. I listen to a lot of genres, more rock, Disney, and Musicals than anything else, and a lot of my favourite songs and artists are more renowned for periods before I was born. I don’t go to gigs often (the lasts ones I went to were in 2012ish) and I won’t just go and see anyone. The last 3 artists I went to see were Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney, and I had pretty much decided that I would only go and see ‘mega artists’, of which I wouldn’t have classed the Killers as before now. So, when we were deciding to go and see them I was (quietly and internally) wondering if it would be worth it and whether they would be anything more than a couple of good songs from a decade ago.
Guys, there are moments in your life when you look back and think ‘wow, that was a brilliant night, very few nights will top that’, and this, well, this was most definitely one of them.
It all started way back in June, when Glastonbury was on and there was a rumour that The Killers were the surprise act on the John Peel stage. No, I wasn’t there (unfortunately), but I found the set on iPlayer on demand and settled down to watch it. I say settle, I was belting out the tunes with them and chair dancing my little heart out. I had never really wanted to see them live before that moment, so, a month or so later when we heard rumblings of a tour, Emma and I decided that we were going to try and get tickets.
And my oh my ‘try’ was the operative word to begin with. We knew when they were going to be released on general sale. We knew when they were going to be pre-released to those fans who had pre-ordered their latest album offering (the tour’s namesake Wonderful, Wonderful). We even knew when the pre-release date for their fan club ‘The Victims’ was going to be. We are members, we had pre-ordered, and we were ready to go. The first pre-sale came and went without so much as a whiff of a ticket. The second pre-sale came and went, and once again, tickets evaporated into the tout-sphere and we were starting to be resigned to the fact that we may well miss out. And then, as if by magic, we got word that Manchester’s official ticket site still had standing seats left and we excitedly snapped some up. That was August.
Fast forward to October, when the evening was still a little while away and things like a concert date a month out were still at the back of my mind, I noticed that an extra gig had been added in Liverpool. Great! As much as I like the Manchester Arena as a venue, it’s a hassle for us to get to, and to be honest, I would rather see them in my home town (where I know they like playing). Faff after faff once again ensued, and a friend at work helped me grab some standing tickets for the Echo arena on November 9th. Thankfully, it was easy to offload our now unwanted Manchester tickets to a friend who had missed out first time round. (Now, looking back, I don’t think I would have been disappointed to be saddled with tickets for two nights, even if it would have made me poor!)
The Killers have a very eclectic fan base, of people who’ve grown up listening to them (Emma and I), older music fans who appreciate their songwriting and performances, young fans who appreciate their hits, and pretty much everyone in between. We arrived at the gig along with pretty much every person from every walk of life, which was fairly awesome. Once searched, we entered, got a drink and wound our way through the crowds. We didn’t arrive super early by any stretch of the imagination, so I was surprised when we could get quite as close as we could, with quite as much room as we could.
We just managed to catch the end of Alex Cameron and Roy Molloy, and I’m a little annoyed with how much I pre-judged them. I had listened to a 20 second snippet of one track, and decided they weren’t for me, but standing there as he swaggered round the stage (in a manner strangely like the drunk love child of Jarvis Cocker and Mick Jagger) I found myself getting into the music. OK, so I don’t think I would seek them out to go and see again, but I can definitely see myself checking out their stuff in future online.
So, once the people were in and the lights were down, the slow low notes of Wonderful Wonderful started to play out over the speakers, and the band started to assemble on stage. As far as opening songs go, Wonderful Wonderful is a great track. The lengthy intro doesn’t require any actual musical instruments to be playing and doesn’t require anyone on stage. It builds slowly allowed the crowd to get excited and the band to assemble, and realistically, it can take as long or as little time as they need it to for it to actually get going. Assemble they did because the opening number was electric and brought to life a song that I had otherwise overlooked on the album.
The biggest song from the new album, and a song that is fast becoming one of my favourite hits, is The Man. It’s full of swagger and sass, it can be belted out and danced to, and it is perfectly paced for party cannons. If the place wasn’t alive before the song, it was after the first 10 seconds. Brandon Flowers kicked it up to full front man mode, complete with shadow boxing and hip thrusting. Then, two thirds of the way through, the roof erupted with streamer and confetti, and everyone just went absolutely nuts. It was crazy and awesome in equal measure. The best bit, I think the band looked like they were having as good a time as we were.
OK, so I know that realistically I can’t do a breakdown of each song individually or this will be the longest post that I ever write, but, the next couple of songs were absolute tunes. The third track saw the band throw it back to the beginning. Strobe lights and a screen display chance signalled the start of Somebody Told Me, which is still one of my favourite Killers Tracks. Everyone was singing along throughout, and I quickly realised that this show was just going to be hit after hit, as it floated straight on into Spaceman, another incredible track. Spaceman has a great beginning which, even if you don’t already know the song, you can chant along with to create a cauldron of noise and crowd participation. If we weren’t all puppets on strings for Flowers before then we certainly were after the song. It was like a marionette master and his strings.
The next few songs were ones, that while I knew them, weren’t quite as embedded into my brain as the others. Run for Cover is a track from the new album and tour Wonderful Wonderful. It features a line about fake news, and if you didn’t know it hadn’t been written 10 years ago, you’d presume it had been written during the political climate of the last 12 months. But no. For Reasons Unknown is a song that I have never actively listened to, but never skip when I am listening to a playlist of Killers hits. Once I heard it live, I added it to my list of Killers songs (a playlist that I regularly listen to in the car!) After that there was a cheeky Joy Division cover, which was quite the surprise given their back catalogue, but a good surprise that meant down well.
We were then back into hit territory. Some of these songs are probably lesser known tunes if you haven’t been desperately trying to learn their latest album ahead of going to see them live, but have fast become songs that I seek out and listen to. Rut and Life to Come are both songs that I fear will be forgotten when this album tour is over, but were powerful and awesome live, and a testament to the variety of songs that the guys perform. And then, well, the crowd went absolutely ballistic as the light show restarted the opening chords of Human rang out. The busker before (and after) the show had done a passable version, but hearing and seeing this live was incredible!
It is now time to admit, that even though I like the Killers and had paid to seem them live, that I am not a superfan and therefore do not know all of their songs (unlike the guys next to us, who were dancing and hugging jubilantly, singing every word to every song, and looked like they were living their best lives right next to us!) I may not have known the songs very well, but Flowers made a funny about not being able to sing that well, made a great deal of his talented backing dancers, and made the most of the songs he had chosen. I like the fact that they clearly play older hits that they really enjoy, and mix it up show to show! Read My Mind was a really good performance too!
Now, I haven’t really talked about my favourite Killers track, because unlike most people who will say Mr. Brightside, my favourite song is All These Things That I’ve Done. After looking at the setlists from the previous nights, I knew that they were likely to play it to close the show pre-encore, so when I heard the music start up, I nearly burst with excitement. The lights were blaring, the confetti was flying, the crowd was dancing, and Brandon was leading us in an almighty chant of ‘I got soul but I’m not a soldier’ that carried on long after they left the stage for their change and recovery. As good as the songs that came before and after, this was my favourite moment of the evening by far.
The Calling is an odd song that, if I’m honest, I just don’t care for, and was accompanied by equally unusual graphics on the screen behind. Ever the front man, he had done a quick wardrobe change was now wearing a head to toe white bedazzled suit with sunglasses looking equal parts ridiculous and fabulous. I didn’t really know Shot at the Night that well – the guys next to us seemed extraordinarily pleased when they began playing it though! I knew that there were still a couple of tracks that they favoured closing with that they still hadn’t played, which let me tell you made for a breathtaking ending to the show.
When We Were Young is one of those songs that you probably won’t think to answer when asked for the most well known, or your favourite Killers tracks, but, when it sounds out and you hear it, you can belt it out and think how much you like it. It’s a great penultimate song.
I think we all knew what was going to happen next. I think we all knew that this was the only song that the gig could realistically finish on. I’m pretty sure at least half the planet would be able to sing along with Mr. Brightside. It’s undoubtedly one of the most well-known, and loved songs, that has been released while I have been alive, and can still regularly be found in the UK singles charts over 13yrs after it’s release. It’s no surprise really that drunk or sober, tired or awake, ready for the end or eager for me, absolutely everyone screamed, jumped and started to sing when the iconic song opened, and the strobe lighting filled the arena. It was one of those moments, where you know you have to catch some of it on video as an ‘I Was There’ moment, but also, a moment you just want to absolutely savour forever. The best bit, I think they were having as good a time as we were when that song played. I just can’t imagine how awesome it must be to write such a hit, and get to play it over and over again knowing it will always be the most iconic song you ever release.
I left that arena with a real sense of who The Killers are and what they’re about, something I didn’t really go in with. I left thinking, when is the next time we will get to see them, I could always look at going on holiday and planning it round a gig. Or, I could look at the newly announced stadium gigs and try and get tickets to see them again, for the second time in a year?
Until next time guys! It was a zinger!