The Killers – Leeds First Direct Arena, 19th November 2017: Review

All Images: The Killers

The Killers put on an appropriately emphatic performance in their first visit to Leeds’ First Direct Arena.

2017 has hardly been the greatest year of The Killers’ career. Although it has some stronger tracks, their fifth studio album “Wonderful Wonderful” which they released in September is pretty far from being as good as the title suggests, and the news of multiple original band members taking time out raised questions about the band’s future. However, that didn’t stop them from putting on a typically triumphant show. 

It’s a testament to their success that even though there were only two of the main band members on stage, they still managed to sell out the show. There wasn’t an empty seat in the building, and it just goes to show that whoever is playing behind him, as long as Brandon Flowers is on stage smashing out the hits, then people will pay to see it.

The Killers, singer, front man, Brandon Flowers, Leeds, First Direct Arena
The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers performing in Leeds

Having said that, you would’ve needed a sharp ear to have noticed there were original members missing from the band, the set was as slick and momentous as ever. You could tell that Flowers was really putting everything into his performance, he connected with the crowd with ease, and his voice was unwavering and completely faultless. He had all the charisma and confidence of a frontman on top of his game, and after that performance, it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t.

It still felt like a big show too. Obviously, it always helps when the venue is packed out, but it still takes more than that to make a show feel big. A striking stage set up and pyrotechnics go a long way to achieving that, and they were certainly both present at this gig. Digital screens enclosed the band on stage displaying special effects and live images of the show all night, as well as light up arrows and even a water tower with Leeds written on it. As well as that, it was just two songs in when the crowd were first showered with confetti at the start of “The Man”, the lead single from “Wonderful Wonderful”.

Ronnie Vanucci Jr. The Killers, Live Music, Live reviews, Leeds, First Direct Arena
The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vanucci Jr. performing at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. He was the only regular band member performing other than Brandon Flowers.

The set itself leaned pretty heavily on this year’s album. The title track “Wonderful Wonderful” opened the set and multiple others made an appearance, including “Run For Cover” and “Tyson Vs Douglas”, many of which fell a bit flat, despite the bands best efforts, who certainly didn’t slow down during them. It’s a given that artists are going to play a healthy selection of their latest material where they can on tour, but in this case, the latest songs just simply aren’t what people paid their money to hear.

The start of the set was where they played most of their new material. By the halfway point, only a handful of the classics had made an appearance, and it was beginning to feel a little bit like they were determined to play anything but the hits. However, they could be excused for their next inclusion. Across the tour, they have played covers of hits made famous by local artists, and tonight was no different, bringing on the former Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson to help play the Leeds-born band’s “I Predict a Riot”. It was a great surprise that got the crowd absolutely rocking, “Did you enjoy your treat?” asks Flowers at the end of the song, it went without saying that they did, the rarity was one of the highlights of the gig.

The Killers, Leeds First Direct Arena, Live Music, Live Review
The crowd at the First Direct Arena loved their treat.

The hits came thick and fast towards the end of the show. A blanket of ticker tape covers the vocal crowd at the climax of the anthemic “All These Things That I’ve Done”, after which the band left the stage briefly. “Bones” and “When You Were Young” from the second album “Sam’s Town” both featured in a hit-filled encore before Flowers brilliantly introduced the finale.

“We have to go now”, he announces to a chorus of boos, “you have to go back to your lives, we have to go to Glasgow”. “Listen, Listen”, he says calming the boos, “I know life can be tough, sometimes that’s the way it goes, but you gotta remember, sometimes it goes the other way too”, before the band break into “Mr Brightside” to make the First Direct erupt one more time before they finish the set. It may be over 14 years old now, but the reaction it gets now is still as electric as when it was first released.

The Killers, Leeds, Brandon Flowers, First Direct Arena, Live music, Live Reviews
Brandon Flowers changed into a sparkling gold jacket and trousers for the encore.

Not only does the success of this tour show the band’s musical ability, it shows how truly timeless that their hits are. Some of them are over a decade old, but arena’s full of people are still paying to hear them live, and they still get the whole venue to erupt when they hear them. The title of the final track on “Wonderful Wonderful” is “Have all the Songs Been Written?” If this is a cryptic sign that Flowers & Co. are running out of ideas, they needn’t worry, as the popularity of their back catalogue will provide them with enough momentum to keep them relevant for years to come yet. 

Setlist:

  1. Wonderful Wonderful
  2. The Man
  3. Somebody Told Me
  4. Spaceman
  5. The Way It Was
  6. Run for Cover
  7. I Can’t Stay
  8. Smile Like You Mean It
  9. For Reasons Unknown
  10. I Predict a Riot
    (Kaiser Chiefs cover) (with Nick Hodgson)
  11. Rut
  12. Tyson vs. Douglas
  13. Human
  14. A Dustland Fairytale
  15. Runaways
  16. Read My Mind
  17. All These Things That I’ve Done

    Encore

  18. The Calling
  19. Bones
  20. When You Were Young
  21. Mr. Brightside

 

For more live reviews and other similar articles, take a look at the related articles at the bottom of the page, and keep up to date with latest posts by following The Great Escapisms on Twitter and Facebook.

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