The Killers @ Sheffield Arena
Such is the value of Brandon Flowers’ stock following the commercial successes of his solo career – 2010’s Flamingo and 2015’s The Desired Effect were both chart-toppers – that if not for tonight’s all Killers set, and the band’s long-time drumming extraordinaire, Ronnie Vannucci Jr, The Killers’ fourth showing at Sheffield’s recently rebranded FlyDSA Arena could’ve easily passed for a Flowers solo show. Understandably hampered by founding members Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer leaving the tour due to personal reasons, the lack of chemistry between the men onstage only presents Flowers with ample opportunity to flaunt his inner stardom. Like a sort of new wave Elvis, the Nevadan spends much of the evening gyrating across the stage to a backdrop of giant, neon cowboys and various other Las Vegas-themed illuminations. Traversing the UK in support of their latest album, Wonderful Wonderful, The Killers’ bubblegum synth tendencies of recent years comprise something of a mismatch when juxtaposed with the Nevadans’ mid-noughties brand of desert-tinged indie rock. While the band debut new numbers The Man and Wonderful Wonderful’s title-track straight off the bat, it’s no surprise that tonight’s contingent of now thirty-something lads and ladettes don’t quite find their own voices until Somebody Told Me receives an obligatory airing. Sandwiched between lumbering renditions of The Way It Was and I Can’t Stay, Run For Cover offers a welcome turn of pace before For Reasons Unknown further ups the ante, thanks to percussive powerhouse Vannucci Jr – seldom restricting himself to the recorded formula in favour of daring fills and off-kilter rhythms. Rut – which feels like one slow song too many – stays faithful to its title, but arena-wide chants of ‘I got soul, but I’m not a soldier’ during All These Things That I’ve Done’s gospel refrain are the show’s high point. Which means that a lengthy encore leaning heavily on the band’s earlier material is the next best thing – featuring the likes of When You Were Young and the inevitable Mr. Brightside. Regrettably reserved more often than not as a laddish anthem fit for the sticky walls of any given lager lout sports bar, it’s a pleasure to witness the latter performed by its architects. Pacing the confetti-strewn stage for a final curtain call, Flowers remarks that it’s time for the band to leave, as London – their next scheduled stop – needs them. ‘Needs’ is a bit of an exaggeration, but for a bona fide slice of Vegas in the dead of winter, this is about as good as it gets.
Words: Chris Lord