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The Killers Kill it at Webster Hall [7/23/12]
The Killers returned to New York City on Monday night for a one-off tour stop at Webster Hall to preview some tracks from their hotly-anticipated new album, Battle Born. Announced mere days before, tickets sold out instantly and the secondary market lit up with demand. Hours before show time, diehard fans (the Victims, as it were) lined the blocks outside the venue to search for tickets under steady rainfall. Inside, the anticipation grew: after a nearly 2-year hiatus (for reasons unknown) would the Killers be lacking any of their renowned stadium-packing swagger? As it turns out, fuck no; they’re confident in their ability to rejoin any discussions of this generation’s best American rock bands.
Right from the outset the Killers absolutely brought it, starting with “Runaways,” the oven fresh single from Battle Born. The band made sure not to downsize their setup for the smaller setting, keeping their intense light show and massive sound intact. The set featured a blend of tracks from their 3 LPs as well as just one cut from B-sides compilation, Sawdust. A cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay.” Highlights included an incredibly energetic “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” the show-ending “When You Were Young” and a beautiful take of “All These Things That I’ve Done,” complete with an extended chant of “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.”
Though the spotlight may have been on the new material, frontman (and renowned fashionista) Brandon Flowers took a moment to share his pride in the previous work. Before introducing “A Dustland Fairytale,” Flowers reminded hardcore fans and lucky bros alike of his confidence in album writing: “I hope our next album is just as shitty as Day & Age,” he sneered, dripping with sarcasm. He’s earned that after writing a soon-to-be classic album in 2006’s game changing Sam’s Town, which has amassed tremendous critical reception as one of the decade’s best records.
In premiering 4 new tracks from Battle Born, Flowers and co were able to jog the memories of longtime fans and show them why they fell in love with this band in the first place. The best thing about the new tracks is that they sound as if the Killers attempted to go back to writing Hot Fuss-type hooks through the scope of their “Las Vegas is a really shitty place” theme from later albums. The new songs have that familiar bounce (not just a synth-y crossover hit like “Human”) that caught your eyes and ears 8 years ago, yet they’ve been given the full treatment of BIG guitar hooks and more polished structuring (dramatic buildups, layered instrumentation, a decent amount of shouting) that fits in better with the band’s last 2 full lengths.
With this in mind, it’s going to be hard to wait until September to hear what will hopefully be a return to glory for the Vegas group. For now, however, let it be known: the Killers are back, and it’s time to start looking forward to a tremendous post-Summer album as well as a must-see arena tour.
Somebody Told Me
Smile Like You Mean It
This Is Your Life
Miss Atomic Bomb*
For Reasons Unknown
Bling (Confessions of A King)
A Dustland Fairytale
Read My Mind
All These Things That I’ve Done
Here On Out*
Flesh and Bone*
Jenny Was A Friend of Mine
When You Were Young