The Killers At Webster Hall New York City
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By Arjan Writes
After a brief hiatus, GRAMMY-nominated pop/rock band the Killers are gearing up to release their highly anticipated fourth studio album, Battle Born, due Sept. 18. The Las Vegas-bred quartet is playing a select number of shows in North America and Europe this summer to give fans a taste of the new music, which features collaborations with a host of GRAMMY-winning producers and engineers, including Stuart Price, Brendan O'Brien and Steve Lillywhite. Battle Born is the group's follow-up to their 2008 hit-spawning Top 10 album Day & Age.
On July 23 the group — Brandon Flowers (vocals/keyboards), Dave Keuning (guitar), Mark Stoermer (bass), and Ronnie Vannucci (drums) — infiltrated New York's Webster Hall to play before a packed crowd eager to see the band back onstage. At 9 p.m. the lights dimmed and bold blue spotlights shone down on the audience as the group ran onstage to the cheers of their adoring fans.
The Killers began on a high note by opening their action-packed 90-minute set with their new single, "Runaways," a soaring slice of Americana with roaring riffs and a pop-savvy anthemic chorus that had fans immediately on their feet. The group rocked right into the GRAMMY-nominated "Somebody Told Me," their breakout hit from their GRAMMY-nominated debut album, 2004's Hot Fuss, followed by the synth-driven "Smile Like You Mean It."
Running the show like clockwork, the Killers were in top shape and ready to impress. "We're going to pick up the energy a little," frontman Flowers said with a smile as he kicked off "Spaceman," an arena-sized glam-rock stomper with big drums, catchy hooks and the group's signature new wave-ish synth bravado.
The show's set design was ruled by an impressive light show that drenched the stage in bright bold colors, adding glamour to the group's rocking performance. A standout item onstage was Flower's keyboard stand, which was shaped after the thunderbolt pictured on the "Runaways" single cover and filled with smaller LED lights that kept changing colors, giving the stage some Las Vegas pizzazz.
Following "This Is Your Life," the group premiered a brand-new track, "Miss Atomic Bomb," which features raving synths, flaming rock guitars and stirring lyrics about "neon lights" and "foolish hearts." "When the dust cloud settles, my mind gets clear," Flowers sang.
After seeing the group perform in Berlin, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, I was immediately struck by how Flowers has evolved into a confident and charismatic showman. During the group's early years, Flowers used to stay close to his keyboard, but he has since grown more comfortable performing without it. "I remember coming to Mercury Lounge early on in our career and being scared to death," he admitted. "But it's getting better and better."
The enigmatic and very dapper frontman then grabbed his guitar and unleashed into the yearning beauty of "For Reasons Unknown" and a cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay." The group brought Webster Hall to a boiling point with a stomping performance of "Human" with Flowers back on synths. Other highlights included "A Dustland Fairytale," a love story inspired by Flowers' parents, and "Read My Mind," which was introduced by a brief acoustic cover of Blondie's "Dreaming."
The crowd was thrown into a frenzy during "Mr. Brightside," the Killers' biggest hit to date, with fans singing along from beginning to end. As the song faded, a synth riff gently segued into the propulsive "All These Things That I've Done" with the timeless meaningful cheer, "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier."
After fans raved for more, the group returned for a meaty encore that began with two brand-new songs, "Here On Out" and a stadium-quaking electro-rock tune, "Flesh And Bone," a quintessential Killers tune.
The Killers kept the energy up with "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mind," one of the first songs they wrote as a band in their Nevada garage. The group triumphantly concluded with "When You Were Young," which had the crowd dizzy on their feet, rocking out one last time before the band left the stage, leaving us with the reminder of what a fantastic live band they are and excited for what sounds like a very promising new album.
"Somebody Told Me"
"Smile Like You Mean It"
"This Is Your Life"
"Miss Atomic Bomb"
"For Reasons Unknown"
"Bling (Confession Of A King)"
"Shadowplay" (Joy Division cover)
"A Dustland Fairytale"
"Read My Mind"
"All These Things That I've Done"
"Here On Out"
"Flesh And Bone"
"Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine"
"When You Were Young"
To catch the Killers in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Arjan Writes is the GRAMMY.com Pop Community Blogger. He is a pop music fanatic who scours the Earth for sweet and crunchy new pop. You can get loads of pop tips at www.arjanwrites.com and www.facebook.com/arjanwrites.)