It had been some 18 years since I’d last seen The Killers play just before they were to release their debut album Hot Fuss. It was a sweaty, sold out capacity gig of 400 people at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth for the obscene price of £7! (I still have the ticket stub at home as no one believes me on the price!)
Tonight was far from the 400 people in attendance that night at the Wedgewood Rooms, maybe add another few zero’s to the number and you’d be closer. Personally, I find stadium gigs sometimes a little hard to feel fully involved, there is some kind of dilution of the connection between the crowd and artist due to the vast size of the venues. Perhaps it’s just me and my affiliation with the personal nature of smaller gigs.
To get the ball rolling tonight and warm up the sold out crowd were Stockport’s finest, Blossoms, fresh from recently releasing a new album there was plenty of new material to be aired. As soon as they hit the stage, and being a bald man, I was very jealous of the amount of long hair on show! What I’d give to have a Jesus hair and a full beard for just a day…I digress!
Most people would agree that Blossoms tunes are built for stadiums and festivals given the nature of the easy listening and upbeat vibes. This was exactly what was needed tonight to help clear the grey clouds that had descended across Southampton.
After the first opening numbers, lead singer Tom, jumped from front and centre to keys and led a crowd clap along to ‘The Sulking Poet’. Tom, dressed in a nautical themed jacket, shares that feeling uninspired and out of sorts with writing, he caught a clip on the TV talking about being in love with someone’s else girlfriend. A few Google searches and 15 minutes later the track ‘Girlfriend’ was born.
The multi talented frontman continues to jump between keys to front of stage during the set and apologises for bringing the rain with them! Introducing the band in turn, I learnt that drummer Joe is in fact Tom’s brother in law. The band continue to treat us to a concoction of further tunes from their repertoire including ‘There’s a Reason Why, ‘Honey Sweet’, ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ and ending with ‘Charlemagne’.
An eerie orchestral music was played from the end of Blossom’s set to the minute The Killers came on stage, which grew in stature the closer to their appearance. The band appeared from either side of the stage to rapturous cheering from the crowd. Brandon was the last member of the band to appear as he began to sing the beginning of ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ from 2020’s ‘Imploding the Mirage’ album. His synth console began to rise from underneath the stage, which was in the shape of an infinity sign, before the first of many confetti cannons were fired into the crowd, setting the tone for the evening to come!
‘Enterlude’ into ‘When You Were Young’ followed suit with the running order of album ‘Sam’s Town’ before two of my personal favourites ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, from their debut ‘Hot Fuss’. It was amazing to be able to sit and view those in the standing section jumping and dancing along to these numbers.
Brandon Flowers is ever the showman, fitting of being from Las Vegas, and is clearly enjoying himself as he weaves his way across the stage from side to side engaging with the crowd as he goes. He describes tonight as a super spreader event of peace, love and rock n roll and so far that wasn’t wrong!
The stage screen is of epic proportions and is the width of the whole stage, it really comes into its own during ‘Human’ which see’s 100’s of images of humans, framed in boxes appear and begin to interact during the song. Everywhere you look something different was happening on the screen.
More confetti cannons proceed after ‘Somebody Told Me’, another number that is an absolute classic! Much to my delight The Killers also decided to cover ‘Shadowplay’ which is my favourite Joy Division song, as soon as I heard the baseline I got shivers and it was definitely an intriguing version of the song.
Sandwiched in between another cover version this time of the country song ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ (which Brandon acknowledges may not be everyones vibe) is a run of numbers from albums Day & Age and Pressure Machine which included ‘Runaway Horses’ and ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ which was dedicated to everyone that was no longer with us. This sees the stadium lit up with the torches from peoples mobile phones and it is quite some sight. Brandon shares prior to the song that his Mum is no longer with us but guides him everywhere, a touching moment.
Throughout the set I’m reminded how amazing Ronnie Vennucci Jr is, his drumming is ferocious and at times overpowering, in contrast to the delicate nature of the the incredible backing vocalists.
Brandon further shares how The Killers first arrived in the UK in September 2003 and he will never forgot how the band were accepted here by everyone. The crowd show their appreciation with Brandon continuing to say that the song they are due to play next never received the love it was about to get, cue ‘All These Things That I’ve Done. ‘I’ve got Soul but I’m not a soldier’ rings out across the stadium with people on their feet everywhere singing at the top of their voices!
The encore begins with ‘Spaceman’ before flowing into an alternative electro version of ‘Mr Brightside’, which at first teased the crowd (and myself as well) into thinking this was how the set was going to end before launching into the version that we all know and love!
Brandon had said during the course of the gig that the band knew they were good when they first started out and tonight certainly reaffirmed this in more ways than one!