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Having taken a break from Australian shores for close to three years, The Killers’ highly anticipated show took place at the Metro – a surprising choice for a band known for their arena-filling anthems. The show sold out almost instantly, with fans offering kidneys and more on the band’s Facebook page.
You know this night was for all those die-hard fans who managed to flex their fingers expertly when the pitifully limited amount of tickets were released and snapped up in a heartbeat. I found myself in a smoky room wedged between a handful of ‘Victims’ (The Killers’ official fan club) who were already perspiring profusely despite the mild summer night.
Steve Smyth kicked off with a vivacious set that showcased both his vocal range and ability to command an audience. He’s got a really bluesy, gritty sound that immediately took everyone by surprise. Real gnarly. People were nodding to eachother in approval.
Smyth had an immense stage presence: there was a real abandon and honesty to his performance. He set the crowd off easily with rhythmic foot stomping, because all of humanity are suckers for stomps and claps. By far the best tune was No man’s land, which he delivered with raw passion. Bristling with fervent guitar riffs and smoky growls, his set was not perfect, but he made an impressive live act.
When The Killers finally crossed the tiny stage, the crowd were already cheering themselves hoarse. Having been lauded as the last champions of the great American Rock genre, what I was interested to see was how their huge sound would play out in the intimate confines of The Metro.
From the very first note of Mr. Brightside, the Killers reasserted themselves as exemplary performers; these Las Vegas natives were born for showbiz. The crowd were extremely receptive, lapping up every track with equal amounts of fervour and intensity. Accompanying them were signature flashes of golden neon lights as they ripped through HumanSpaceman and Smile Like You Mean It, with the old favourites sending the room into a sweltering frenzy.
Though many critics have claimed Battle Born is at times over-ambitious, too glitzy, and too bold, it is hard to argue that their climatic choruses and soaring riffs are anything but catchy. Fans didn’t miss a word of Way it Was, Miss Atomic Bomb and Runaways, with every tune proving to be a crowd-pleaser. Things cooled down a bit after Somebody Told Me, and the stifling atmosphere was replaced by an expectant warmth as the lulling first chords of Here with Me were played. It is easily one of the most potent tracks off their latest record.
Flowers was at home on stage and had the banter down pat, giving A Dustland Fairytale a poignant introduction, and delivering it with ardent conviction and sincerity. They followed up with a cover of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, which is a classic by default, before they brought out Read My Mind. Ronnie (the drummer) really got stuck into this one and was ripping it up in the back. The band rounded off the set with When You Were Young, which built and built, before they made a hasty exit.
They’d barely left the stage before the crowd started pressing for an encore. The Killers did not disappoint, promptly meandering back on stage and pummelling the expectant crowd with A Matter of Time, Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, and finally All These Things that I’ve Done, with the latter permeating the hall with cries of ‘I’ve got a soul, but I’m not a soldier’. This tune was an unrivalled show-closer and provided an apt end to the night.
If anything, Battle Born does not do The Killers justice. Their intimate show brought a new depth to their unabashedly big sound, and for those who could set aside all indie sensibilities and embrace the bold and glamorous, it would’ve been a genuinely special night.