The Killers display the enduring power of rock and roll at EMU
For a modern rock band, the Killers can generate a fair bit of nostalgia.
Not just the nostalgia for a back catalog of very strong material, but also the notion that a rock concert can be an event, featuring everything from a strong supporting act, to a hypnotizing light show, to a frontman who knows all the tricks to get fans in on the action.
In short, the Killers killed it on Thursday, rocking a sold-out Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center with a muscular, two-hour show that spanned the band’s career and kept the kids on their feet.
“I don’t know what to call you,” Brandon Flowers said as the band settled into the groove of its well-paced set. “Ann Arbor? Detroit? Ypsilanti?
“What do you like? How about Michigan? How about America?”
Indeed, the Killers are a great American rock band—theatrical, but without any artifice. Just honest, guitar-driven modern rock’n’roll that’s hooky to the point of being irresistible.
It doesn’t hurt that Flowers is a consummate frontman, exuding an easy charisma that propels the band, as well as a fine voice that inhabits an upper register most singers couldn’t pull off.
The songs themselves are hardly deep, yet Flowers and the core of the band—guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci—played with a panache that lent a sense of grandeur to the material, frequently elevating it to something more than the sum of its parts.
In fact, some of the newer material, particularly “A Dustland Fairytale” and “Runaways,” approached Springsteen-esque proportions thanks to gentle keyboard figures and earthy, ringing electric guitars that swelled along with Flowers’ increasingly desperate vocals
And, of course, there was hit after hit after hit after hit, reminding us that since its debut in 2003, the band has been one of the industry’s most consistently successful enterprises.
And sure, hits like “When You Were Young,” “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” were delivered just like the records. But with radio gems like these, why change a thing?
In fact, everything the band did on Thursday worked. The pacing was impeccable, mixing ballads against rockers. Arragements were solid, yet loose enough to give the songs some room to breathe.
One of the Killers’ many strengths—something that has hindered many a lesser band—is that it covers so many bases without ever devolving into parody. New wave, classic rock, catchy dance pop you name it, the Killers touched on it on Thursday. That they did it all convincingly is a testament to the material as well as the players.
“Hey, it’s just a Killers show,” Flowers said at one point. “You get a bit of everything.”
And the result was one of the finest shows of the year, one that was every bit as good as Tegan Quinn, of opening act Tegan and Sara, said it would be.
“You’re going to love the show,” she predicted correctly as she and her twin sister, Sara, ended their tidy, hit-laden half-hour set of confessional folk-pop tunes. “It’s going to rock your face off.”