Review: The Killers at the O2 Academy Brixton

It was a one-off gig which surprised Killers fans and left them excited and nervous ever since the intimate Brixton performance was announced at short notice at the end of August. There was, naturally, the mad rush for tickets, the exclusivity of the show, and then the fear that Hurricane Irma might have stopped Brandon Flowers and co. in their tracks earlier on in the week. Nevertheless, the singer still graced the stage with enthusiasm and style last night, opening with a track full of bravado, The Man.

Although of course, before all of that, there was the obligatory support act in the form of Howling Bells’ Joel Stein, a.k.a. Glassmaps. With slow rhythms and whining vocals, it was a set which was dull, boring and forgettable in nature. Whilst it did make for calm, relaxing listening, having a quiet band open for a rocky group such as The Killers felt fairly out of place. Also, with 126 monthly Spotify listeners and 385 Twitter followers, Stein clearly has a long way to go before the crowds start to recognise his songs – but opening for the US hitmakers no doubt gave his solo project a reasonable boost.

Then came the main act. A member of the tech team walks on stage, unveiling a light-up Mars male symbol which makes a change from the lower-case ‘k’ which was used at Glastonbury and Hyde Park. Aside from the new set design having some relevance to The Man, one has to wonder whether it also ties into Flowers’ comments about the upcoming album Wonderful Wonderful being a personal record. Combine all this with the fact that Brandon and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. were the only two original members on stage (with guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer pulling out of touring), and it’s likely that all eyes are on Brandon Flowers at the moment.

Brandon Flowers stage presence remained on top form throughout the night, engaging with the crowd at every opportunity.

As for the set itself, it was one full of all the well-known hits (with Somebody Told MeRead My MindAll These Things That I’ve DoneHumanSpaceman and of course, the huge Mr Brightside all getting played), along with a few new tracks as well, such as the fast-paced Run for Cover and an unheard track introduced by Divergent and Zombieland actor Woody Harrelson, The Calling.

Granted, there were a few tracks I couldn’t recognise, which made me feel a little bad as I rocked out in my new Killers t-shirt (it was clear that I had to do some extra listening once home). Yet, even so, that didn’t stop me dancing along as The Killers powered through songs at an incredibly fast pace.

Lastly, one has to consider the venue for such a performance – The O2 Academy in Brixton. With a historic twang to its interior and exterior architecture, it was certainly an eccentric place for an equally eccentric band to play. Add this to the fact that the main floor sloped towards the stage and felt both spacious and intimate, and you have a phenomenal atmosphere for The Killers to make use of. Joyous chants to Mr Brightside and Human felt extra special when you consider how small and cosy the venue felt. Chuck in a few unexpected crowd surfers and mini mosh pits and you have a quality show from one of the best bands on the global rock scene.

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