Somehow, it’s almost two decades since The Killers arrived with their debut record, Hot Fuss, which kickstarted their special relationship with Britain. On Saturday evening, Brandon Flowers triumphantly led them through their canon of work at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.
Playing in sports stadia isn’t fitting for every band. It goes without saying how difficult it is to keep 50,000 people engaged when they are situated so far away from the stage. Most importantly, you need songs capable of filling the vast space and a charismatic frontman tasked with making everybody in the stadium feel connected; fortunately, The Killers have both.
When putting on a gig of this scale, making sure everything runs smoothly can become a logistical nightmare, but thankfully, there were no major logistical issues at Old Trafford. After queueing for around 20 minutes, I made my way through just in time to see the support act, Blossoms.
The Stockport indie group are no strangers to playing this kind of venue, having headlined Stockport County’s Edgeley Park and Manchester’s AO Arena. Although they are not a traditional stadium-rock group on paper, they excelled during their near hour-long set with hits like ‘Charlamagne’, ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’, and ‘Getaway’ being lapped up by the adoring crowd.
After Blossoms got the party spirit in full flow at Old Trafford, it was time for the main event. The Killers took to the stage around 8:45pm and kickstarted a career-spanning show which rolled on for the next two hours and, in truth, they could have played for even longer.
Their opening track was a peculiar choice. Rather than going for one of their classics, The Killers instead opted to air ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ from 2020’s Imploding The Mirage. Even though I wasn’t greatly familiar with the effort, most of the crowd belted it out at the top of their lungs, and so did I towards the end of the song. From there, The Killers guided the set down memory lane and revisited trademark tunes, including ‘When You Were Young’, ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’, and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’.
There was a joyous spirit in the air, and the atmosphere was epitomised by a 67-year-old fan named Billy. During the set, the pensioner was crowd surfing and, unfortunately, fell, leading to Flowers temporarily halting the concert to check up on him. Although Billy suffered a cut to his head, he didn’t let the episode dampen his spirits. Flowers told fans: “I said, ‘Billy, what are you doing?’ And you know what he said? He said: ‘I’m enjoying meself.”
The Killers also paid tribute to local heroes, Joy Division, during their emphatic set when they covered ‘Shadowplay’, which was a spine-tingling moment.
Another memorable section came when the Nevada group invited a fan called Casey to play ‘Reasons Unknown’. It’s a tradition they have been doing throughout their tour, which previously went viral in Glasgow, and the trick is a crowd-pleaser which works every time.
Towards the end of the performance, the Killers rattled off more classics, including goosebumps-inducing, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, and fan favourite, ‘Read My Mind’. After briefly leaving the stage, they returned for an encore comprised of ‘Spaceman’ and ‘Mr. Brightside’. The latter has been overplayed to such an extent that it’s become incredibly tiresome, but, in the live setting, it descended into chaos thanks in part to the assistance of mightily impressive pyrotechnics.
While The Killers have never been the most critically adored band in the world, the sheer skill it takes to unite 50,000 people can’t be understated. These giant communions are vitalising for the soul, and there wasn’t a single person who left Old Trafford without wearing a smile, which is powerful to witness.
For final tickets to The Killers’ shows in Dublin at Malahide Castle, visit here.