“We see tonight as a shot at redemption,” lead singer Brandon Flowers told a sold out crowd at the first of two nights at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday night (Feb. 1). Flowers explained that 11 years earlier, he and The Killers played the Staples Center in support of their sophomore album, Sam’s Town. “We had an off night,” Flowers admitted. “Tonight we have every intention of lighting this motherfucker up.”
It’s hard for me to imagine The Killers having an “off night.” I’ve been an avid fan and regular attendee of Killers concerts for the past 15 years. Whilst in the car on my way to this particular Killers show, I was on the phone with my dad who even remembered that he scolded me for listening to a band with such a violent name. He didn’t like that I identified myself as a “Victim,” the name of the band’s fan base which was during a time before most Beliebers were even born. He only came around to actually letting me go to my first Killers show in my sophomore year of high school when he realized they were the closest thing to New Order I’d ever get. I paid $15 for that show.
Now on their fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, it’s interesting that Flowers brought up the concept of redemption right at the top of the show. The Killers have had a fascinating trajectory. They have one of the best debut albums under their belt with Hot Fuss and they also have, undoubtedly, one of the most popular songs in rock history with “Mr. Brightside.” But there is something about them that has made their concerts more than just an excuse to travel back to the early 00s and that something is their consistency.
Whether you believe that they peaked with Hot Fuss or (like me) enjoy every iteration the band has had, there is no denying that The Killers are one of the few honest to goodness rock bands we have. The highs are highs like with “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” but even with their lesser known and newer releases like “Run for Cover” and “The Man,” there is an exuberance that Flowers has upon execution. It’s undeniable, it’s infectious, and it’s difficult to find someone happier to be on stage than him.
While some bands as they age become more cynical, jaded, and start to phone it in, Flowers specifically has come into his own as a frontman over his tenure. At the start of his career, he came off as that rebellious twentysomething; someone who was clearly rejecting his religious upbringing and instead decided to wear guyliner and hot pink suits in protest. Instead of spiraling, the band seemed to learn from their mistakes early on by reducing press interviews and carefully curating their image. By avoiding the typical rockstar pitfalls, The Killers actually realized their full rockstar potential by making it solely about their music and how to filter that through their live shows.
As The Killers made their way through their massive catalogue, it’s only then that you realize exactly how much more they are than “Mr. Brightside.” While people are quick to pigeonhole them with their first album, their live shows continue to be this one-two combination knockout of hit songs. For most of the show, Flowers performed in a timeless black suit and white collared shirt — the more grown up version of all of his former selves. When he emerged for the encore in an all gold sequin shirt with matching shoes, it wasn’t a guy in his late thirties trying to relive his prime, it was the purest sense of self expression that felt absolutely genuine. Plus, it was just really, really cool.
That’s the thing about The Killers that I feel has set them apart from that era of early 00s rock bands. Flowers has always said they were never afraid of becoming big or mainstream unlike their peers. In fact, they embraced it. They never backed away from being too flamboyant in their delivery, never scared to be a little bit cheesy or dramatic. Which is why they’ve been able to stay in the conversation as a relevant band instead of a legacy act trying to make a comeback. That fearlessness is helping Flowers reserve a spot as one of the best rock performers alongside Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and David Bowie.
Before “For Reasons Unknown,” Flowers spotted a sign in the crowd that asked to play drums during the song. Fan Alana was brought up on stage and took over for Ronnie Vannucci Jr. The audience cheered as she shredded through the song with ease being met with the biggest smile of surprise and admiration from both Flowers and Vannucci. It’s hard to describe what it felt like to watch this moment unfold on stage but it’s similar to how I felt when I attended my first Killers show 15 years ago. Alana couldn’t have been any older than I was when I first discovered them, which is when I realized that The Killers is my longest running live band relationship. And true love lasts a lifetime. After over 20 shows, this one was by far the best.
Redemption was never needed for The Killers, they’ve always been on top of their game. They just refuse to settle for anything less than the best.
Somebody Told Me
That Way It Was
Run For Cover
I Can’t Stay
Smile Like You Mean It
For Reasons Unknown
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Tyson VS. Douglas
This River is Wild
New Song (“written just for tonight”)
Read My Mind
All These Things I’ve Done
Andy, You’re a Star
When You Were Young