26 May 2018

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Gig Review: The Killers @ Spark Arena, Auckland 20/04/2018

21 Apr 2018 // A review by butch181

The night started early, with Alex Cameron, an Australian musician who is friends with Brandon Flowers, having assisted in The Killers latest release, co-writing five tracks. An interesting act, they imbibe an electronic 80’s element to their music, with a David Bowie/Sting vibe to Cameron’s vocal style. Cameron is the clear focal point of the group, dancing throughout the set, amongst his otherwise static band. Performing a short set, the live band make the most of their time on stage engaging with a lot of banter, and completing the unique part of their live performances, saxophonist Roy Molloy’s “Stool Review”. Their set went over well with the crowd, though Cameron’s duet with keyboarder Holiday Sidewinder was slightly hampered by microphone feedback issues. The crowd were supportive but not ultimately familiar with the material, not properly engaging during the tracks, with the exception of their final track about a “confused, white, straight male”, Marlon Brando, from their 2017 release Forced Witness.

While the techs and crew were setting up, the house lights were lit and the full scale of a nearly sold out Arena show was there for all to see. All of the seats were full, all the way up, all the way back, and not an inch of floor space was visible. The stage was set up with the entire rear wall posing as a screen, with two large additional screens on either side of the stage, and a plethora of lighting hanging above it all. Undoubtedly, the show was set to be a visual adventure.

The house lights dimmed, the crowd absolutely erupted in applause as the band entered the stage and went straight into Mr. Brightside. It took mere seconds before 80% of the audience in the stands were standing in their seats as they mirrored the actions of the floor crowd, dancing and singing with hands in the air. Vocalist Brandon Flowers, dressed in a black suit with a floral coloured trim, basks in the atmosphere and adoration and has a smile on his face that doesn’t leave him for the entirety of their night’s performance. The third track into the set and they have already pulled out Somebody Told Me, a show of confidence in the strength of their back catalogue, having played two of their biggest singles from their debut release Hot Fuss so early in the night. Flowers vocals do lack the calm, measured clarity that the studio albums portray, instead he has an almost feverish infectious energy to his performance, as he dances from one side of the stage to another, while their beast of a drummer, Ronnie Vanucci Jr., outperformed the remainder of the band with his oomph, vigour and crisp sound. 

Basking in purple and white lights, the now nine-piece act exhibited power on stage as they performed a variety of hits from their discography; despite the show being part of their tour promoting the Wonderful Wonderful album, it only comprised a quarter of the setlist. With a combination of live video feeds on the large screens behind adjacent to the stages, the show was a visual spectacle with lasers and a couple of rounds from the confetti and streamer cannons during The Man and All These Things That I’ve Done. The heat and energy on the floor were visible as the fired confetti continued to hover and spin above the audience for the entirety of each track, held up by nothing but the rising heat coming from the masses of fans on the standing floor. 

One woman, Amy, from Auckland had a once in a lifetime opportunity, fighting her way to the front of the crowd, her “Drums?” sign was spotted by Flowers and after clarifying that she actually knew how to play the song, was brought on stage to play drums with the band during their performance of For Reasons Unknown. Knocking it out of the park, Amy was able to perform all of the trills and drum fills, and even managed to keep up with the usual changes to live songs, extending parts to encourage crowd participation and for dramatic effect. One of the best fan performances I’ve seen on stage, and even more impressive as it was instrumentally, and not vocals. But that is the calibre of fans that were present on the night. They all knew the songs, all the lyrics, and were enthralled with the performance. Making the most of their time in New Zealand Flowers and lead guitarist Dave Keuning performed an abridged cover of our very own Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over. While he initially struggled to get the key right, he eventually got it and sung it together with the crowd. Exiting the stage, the crowd milled and cheered trying to bring on an encore performance, but it was several minutes of waiting for Flowers emerged back on stage, refreshed in a glittering gold suit and glasses. Performing three more tracks, they ended their set with When You Were Young, before leaving the stage one last time.

Review written by Alex Moulton
Photos provided by Rob Loud

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