The Killers, who hail from "Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" played the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Atlanta's suburb of Alpharetta on Thursday night as part of their worldwide tour to support the release of their latest studio album, Battle Born.
The Battle Born tour has been a long one with more than 140 concerts in 40 countries, starting in July 2012 and going through the end of October this year. Alpharetta, Georgia was the latest stop.
The Killers have gone on the road with a show full of over the top pyrotechnics and lights to make sure that they provide an on the road experience that would challenge the best of what their home town “Strip” can offer. They might not have the Bellagio’s dancing fountains but they do have firework waterfalls, fireballs and so much confetti that it created a fire hazard and had to be removed from the stage before the encore!
This article was originally conceived as a comparison piece comparing the concert experience of the Killers as Stadium band in London to the Killers as a smaller venue band at the Verizon in Atlanta.
Wembley Stadium is England's national soccer stadium and rock concerts there are the domain of the biggest artists, if you've played Wembley in front of 80,000, you've reached the pinnacle of rock superstardom in England.
The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre is a smaller, regional outdoor venue with a 7,000-seated capacity.
But what has become apparent from being at both concerts is that it doesn't matter whether you're playing at Verizon or Wembley, the challenge for any musician or group is to engage the crowd and get them involved, not down front, that's easy but in the cheaper seats at the back, it's just a matter of scale!
To do that you need music that engages the crowd and if the music doesn’t then musicians that do. The Killers have both, in spades!
The Killers music is perfectly suited for crowd participation and Flowers is the perfect lead singer and conductor. He moves smoothly back and forth across the stage encouraging and, when that doesn’t work, cajoling the crowd into singing along. More importantly, it is apparent that Flowers really enjoys himself in that role. Feeding off his energy, before you know it everyone is standing up and joining in, it’s tribal behavior personified! Great stuff and thoroughly entertaining!
But Brandon Flowers can’t, and doesn't do it alone, he might be the frontman or the ringmaster but he needs, and benefits from, the other band members. While Flowers provided great vocals and the “eye candy” for the women in the audience, young and not so young, Ronnie Vannucci was the “guys guy”. Thick set, heavily bearded, wearing a sleeveless Harley Davidson t-shirt and complete and utterly maniacal in playing the drums, Vannucci is the perfect foil to Flower’s smooth and mostly calm demeanor.
You can almost hear the show director saying to the video cameraman providing footage for the huge video screens, “Don’t forget Vannucci, focus in on Vannucci, he’ll do something!” He did! All night long!
Dave Keuning’s excellent lead guitar, Mark Stoemer’s under-appreciated engine room bass line and Ted Sablay on guitar and keyboards provided the perfect foundation for The Killers to deliver a great show; great music with some Las Vegas-style visual entertainment thrown in for good measure.
What’s great about the Killers is that the music and vocals do not rely heavily on over-production and remixing in the studio. Consequently seeing them in concert provides very good, tight live renditions of some great studio originals. That fact, and the band’s positive energy, makes for a great show even for those furthest from the stage.
The set was fast-paced and was everything fans would have hoped for!
Then Killers chose not to build to a crescendo rather they started at full speed with two of their biggest hits “Mr. Brightside” and “Spaceman” and stayed there for almost two hours finishing with a four song encore that ended with two more of their biggest hits “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “When You Were Young.”
In between, the band hit the high points of their growing catalog of music, Flowers teasing the crowd with an acoustic interlude of the first few bars of “Human” before moving into a great version of “Bling (Confessions of a King)”.
They played only one cover during their regular set but Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” has been part of their show for so long that it feels like a Killer’s song and certainly their version is different, lighter, than the original.
In a nod to the current album release they played their newest singalong standards, “Miss Atomic Bomb”, “The Way it Was” and “Battle Born” and offset those with the ballad “Be Still.”
The Virgins came back on stage and accompanied the Killers in the first song of the encore, “Albuquerque” a pretty faithful but more upbeat cover of Neil Young’s original, the first time it had been played on tour.
So it didn’t matter whether it was Atlanta (Alpharetta) or Wembley Stadium, the Killers created the same energy and provided a similar great evening of entertainment, it was just on a different scale in London. But in case you want to see how they did in London, search online for “Wembley song Killers” you’ll be treated to a song they wrote specifically for that show about the significance of the venue and the great artists who have played it, all of whom, just like the Killers were able to engage the cheap seats at the back.
So if you’re planning on going to one of the remaining shows on the tour you can relax in the knowledge that regardless of where you’re sitting you will have a great time.
The Way it Was
Smile Like You Mean It
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Miss Atomic Bomb
Somebody Told Me
For Reasons Unknown
From Here On Out
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
All These Things That I've Done
Albuquerque (with The Virgins)
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
When You Were Young