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Live review: The Killers @ Liberty Stadium, Swansea (23/06/18)


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Saturday night's The Killers gig proved once again that Brandon Flowers is undeniably a brilliant performer.

The band began their show with ‘The Man’ on a stage with lit up arrows and a Mars symbol, making an entrance with an explosion of pink confetti. Flowers demanded attention and cultivated confidence from the very beginning, with the suitable self-mocking lyrics of their first song, “I’m the man”, “I’ve got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man”, reflecting on a period of cockiness and arrogance. They also had three female backing singers, who moved and sang in unison, behind three smaller Venus signs.

The band’s perpetual energy kept the audience on their toes, building anticipation by extending the synth introductions of ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’. They also changed up the setlists so that the killjoys who looked them up before hand were caught out. One of the crowd’s favourite moments was when Flowers announced they would be playing their cover of Dire Straits’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’, recorded from their live show at the Royal Albert Hall, featured on their third album, Sawdust. The softer arpeggiated chords and strums of the electric guitar contrasted from the echoing synths and amplified guitar chords, Flowers’ emotional tone complimented the lyrics so that every word was felt. The surrounding audience crowd were welling up to the beautiful rendition, particularly to the line “When we made love, you used to cry, I love you like the stars above, I love you til I die”. Throughout their Wonderful, Wonderful Tour, they have played a variety of covers, including Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’, but it was a real treat to have a cover that the crowd were more familiar with.

Opening guitar chords of the more well-known songs such as ‘Runaways’, ‘Read My Mind’, ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘The Way It Was’ felt truly anthemic, like they were written for a stadium show.  The iconic high note in the chorus of ‘Runaways’, “We can’t wait til tomorrow’ captured the meaning of the song, about a all-consuming young love, “I knew it when I met you, I’m not gonna let you run away, I knew that when I held you I wasn’t letting go”. Flowers had the crowd singing the line back to him, making it feel as if the whole stadium had come to a stand still. This continued over the opening synth chords of ‘Read My Mind’, making a perfectly smooth transition into another song that the audience went wild for. The crowd reacted in a similar way to ‘All These Things That I Have Done’, reciting back ‘I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” At the climatic point of the song, they released string confetti, creating another amazing reaction. Their incredible visuals continued into ‘When You Were Young’, with a stunning backdrop of gold sparks flying down behind the band. For ‘Tyson vs Douglas’ off their newest album, they had a backdrop of Muhammed Ali, encapsulating the lyrics of “When I saw him go down, felt like somebody lied, I had to hold my breath til the coast was clear”, especially when Flowers held his fists in a boxing style.

The Killers versatility was highlighted throughout their show, with both more ‘rock’ style songs and upbeat 80s style synths of ‘Spaceman’ and the stunning ‘Shot At The Night’ all being performed to perfection. It was not only Flowers that stole the show – Vannuci had an incredible drums solo and Keuning’s guitar solo in ‘Read My Mind’ received one of the biggest cheers of the night.

Perhaps one of the best things about The Killers performance in Swansea was their interaction with the audience. Flowers said to the audience at the end of the show, “We love you. Because of you, we get to do this”, introducing the show saying “We are the Killers. And that makes you the victims” “We want you all to leave this show saying, ‘Those are the motherfuckers that did it’”. They were often overwhelmed by the crowd and were filled with gratitude. The most poignant moment of the gig was when Flowers let Ellie, who he made sure was from Swansea, come onto stage and play the keyboard for ‘Dustyland Fairytale’. He told her that ‘everyone was rooting for her’, and, despite her evident nerves, she performed brilliantly, even managing to harmonise with Flowers. He genuinely wanted her to do well and was ecstatic as she continued to play. He sang the closing lines to her and even walked her off stage, which was greatly received by the audience. They made sure to pay homage to where they were playing, with a water tank with ‘Abertawe’ sprawled across it on stage. On their Twitter, when Brandon changed into a dazzling gold sequin suit for the Encore, they wrote ‘Whose Coat Is that Jacket’, ‘Diolch Abertawe’.

Predictably, they ended with ‘Human’ followed by ‘Mr Brightside’. ‘Human’ was stunning as the anthemic synth instrumentals vibrated throughout the stadium, with the whole crowd singing the chorus along with Flowers. They used a robotic voice to introduce it, saying ‘Are we human’, filling the vast space with bright red lasers and a visual of an illuminated beating heart. ‘Mr Brightside’ has been overplayed and is arguably overrated so much so, that the Killers themselves couldn’t even play up to its expectations. They began with a less energetic start to the song, with a very anti-climatic chorus, which they re-started with a much higher pace and energy which the crowd loved. Although cliché, Mr Brightside was a good way to end such an amazing set, with both the band and the crowd’s energy bouncing off each other. Once they’d left the stage, Vannuci came to the microphone and said “Thank you” to incredibly loud cheers, and felt that that was enough despite looking like he had more to say. They displayed a Las Vegas style car sign at the end, saying ‘Thank you, Drive Carefully’ and ‘Tell all your friends’, a fitting end for the Las Vegas band.

The Killers were both lyrically and technically an incredible band and there was no-one who left Liberty Stadium that wasn’t in awe of what they’d just seen.

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