The Killers are, both literally and figuratively, likely the most Vegas band in the world… and that’s not a bad thing… The Las Vegas group shimmied onto pop music’s radar in 2004 with their ineffably infectious anthem of androgyny, “Somebody Told Me,” a smash single that fully embraced the post-punk revival and dance-rock trends of the era. Frontman Brandon Flowers quickly found himself falling somewhere between hipster hero and formidable pop icon amongst masses of late-teen/early-twentysomething fans who were tired of the traditional “ROCK” thing and enjoying synth-filled, pseudo-intellectual pop songs that you could actually dance to… Nearly twenty years later, Flowers and co. (nearly all members have remained for the vast majority of the band’s tenure) are certainly looking and feeling more along the lines of those legitimate pop icons, while the majority of their peers from that era (many of whom are actually quite good) never made it out of the nightclubs.
Last Tuesday, September 27th, the band filled Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center (regular home to acts like Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, and U2) for a nearly two-hour spectacle of chicly danceable, but equally arena-ready pop rock, which included video projections that lined the back of the stage (including an homage to their hometown), a catwalk of sorts which enabled Flowers to coyly prance himself back and forth as he towered above the front row, and several occasions where nearly the entirety of the audience was doused in confetti. Flowers resembled a cross between Dave Gahan and Elvis and it worked in just about every way.
The tour, two years in the making, was in support of the band’s sixth (yet not latest) LP, Imploding the Mirage, which dropped in August of 2020. And although the set featured five of the album’s 10 songs, and the audience featured a plethora of Imploding the Mirage Tour shirts (likely purchased for $40 that very night), it was the tracks off of their 2004 debut and breakthrough (not a lot of band’s can swing both in one) Hot Fuss, that proved to be the obvious crowd favorites, including “Somebody Told Me,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” and opening track and non-single “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.”
The crowd themselves were as motley of a crew as you could imagine sharing such a jubilant time together. Walking through the parking lot of the sports complex, you were surrounded by tailgaters well past middle-age, chugging Bud Lights and blasting the hits of classic rock radio. There were also a bevy of well below driving agers there with parents who likely fancied themselves to be a fun crowd back when Hot Fuss was released, but have since found comforts in suburbs with good school districts and easily accessible Targets. However, likely the loudest supporters of the band were the thirtysomethings still caught between the hip world and the straight world, proudly projecting the former, while appreciating the comforts of the latter more than they would like to admit.
Opening the show was [who will forever be] Morrissey’s other half and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who churned out an 8-song, 40-minute performance of Smiths megahits “Panic,” “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” and “How Soon Is Now?” in addition to two tracks from this year’s Fever Dreams Pts. 1-4, and even “Getting Away With It,” by Electronic, Marr’s project with Joy Division/New Order’s Bernard Sumner. I’d like to credit Marr’s set as the highlight of the evening, but while it was performed with admirable aplomb, technical prowess, and as much post-punk passion as one could possibly muster in a hockey arena, it just wasn’t the same as seeing him from the stages of The Trocadero, Union Transfer, and Theatre of Living Arts over the past 10 years… That, and The Killers’ adeptness for arena shows really is quite fucking impressive…
The Killers’ set came to a close with 2004 single “All These Things That I’ve Done,” arguably the evening’s most epic moments. The 5+-minute track rang out as the band’s gospel chant, enabling the audience to not only display the profundity of their love, but also a moment to catch their breath as their dancing shoes began to wear thin. However, it was the three song encore – after a notably extended break – that provided the night’s best moments. After a rendition of “Spaceman” off of 2008’s Day & Age, Johnny Marr returned to the stage to accompany The Killers for a cover of The Smiths’ “This Charming Man,” before closing the evening out with the band’s ultimate anthem, “Mr. Brightside,” for which Mr. Marr stuck around, a fitting conclusion, considering The Killers’ very first Philadelphia show took place at a sold-out Theatre of Living Arts, while Morrissey himself was currently performing just across town.