Killers frontman Brandon Flowers oozes charm, both onstage and off.
The Las Vegas outfit pulled up via white courtesy vans just minutes before taking the stage on Saturday night as the headliners for KMFA Day at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The band quietly gathered in a semi-circle stage right, with drummer Ronnie Vannucci beating his sticks on the metal barricade. Cued by management, the guys began making their ways up the steps to the stage.
Flowers didn’t notice, however, since he had headed over to the opposite barricades to greet some crew members and their families. Some serious fan swooning ensued as Flowers, decked in a black leather motorcycle jacket, black jeans and his “dancing shoes” sprinted up the stairs and onto the stage where the band opened with an oldie in new wave number “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.” Driven by Mark Stoermer’s punchy bassline, the opener to their 2004 debut full-length Hot Fuss quickly set the party vibe.
Although touring in support of new album Battle Born, the festival required an abbreviated setlist, and the Killers wasted no time in delivering their hits, immediately launching from “Jenny” to smash hit “Mr. Brightside.”
Flowers soon ditched the jacket and advised the audience that they were “gonna pick it up a little bit.”
“Are you ready?” he asked. When the response wasn’t quite up to par, he repeated, “Are you ready or not?”
Satisfied with that audience reaction, he launched into the jaunty “Spaceman,” and the fans needed no further enticing to sing along to its catchy chorus.
The quartet, now touring with an additional guitarist in Ted Sablay, followed that up with fan faves such as “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Human,” “Somebody Told Me,” “For Reasons Unknown” and “Read My Mind.”
The Killers channeled the Smiths with “Smile Like You Mean It,” which saw guitarist Dave Keuning breaking out his Fender Starcaster for the track’s killer riffs, while Flowers strapped on a Fender Mustang Bass to play “For Reasons Unknown.”
Flowers’ dramatic and endearing delivery was best displayed during “Human,” a song that he’s performed hundreds of times but still belts it out as if it were his first.
Dozens of fans crowd-surfed their way towards the stage throughout the set, but coincidentally during this Day & Age hit number, one ardent watcher seemed hell-bent on proving he was superhuman. After making it into the safety of the photo pit area, he attempted to climb his way onstage. It took about 10 security guards to finally slow his roll.
The band also slowed theirs – just slightly.
“The motto where we are from is what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Flowers said with a laugh. “This next song starts out there in our desert and is about our parents and what that represents.”
With that, a few twinkling notes from a piano cued the start of the slow-building “A Dustland Fairytale,” also off Day & Age.
Flowers, backed only by Keuning on guitar, then paid tribute to the locals by segueing into a brief cover of the Beatles’ “Get Back.”
“Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner, but he knew it couldn’t last,” sand Flowers. “Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona for some California grass.”
While the set mostly focused on their best and biggest material, Battle Born was front and center, too. The set included “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “From Here On Out.” Also, the lightning bolt that appears on the album’s cover was mirrored on the front of Flowers’ keyboard stand, and cannons shot out confetti – consisting of lightning bolts and the letter K — during the performance of Battle Born’s grandiose lead single “Runaways.”
“We’ve only got one more so we’re going to play it as hard as we can,” noted Flowers before the finale, “When You Were Young.”
He and his bandmates kept that promise, but it just wasn’t enough for some fans.
With the post-show parking lot stuck in a massive gridlock, several fans just sat in their cars with the radio playing. The playlist du jour?
Of course, it had to be the Killers.
1. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
2. Mr. Brightside
4. Shadowplay (Joy Division cover)
5. Smile Like You Mean It
6. Miss Atomic Bomb
8. Somebody Told Me
9. For Reasons Unknown
10. From Here On Out
11. A Dustland Fairytale
12. Get Back (Beatles Cover)
13. Read My Mind
15. All These Things That I’ve Done
16. When You Were Young