The Killers at The O2 review: giving more bang for your buck than any other modern band

 (Chris Phelps)
(Chris Phelps)

“You don’t get anything by just saying affirmations in the mirror,” began Brandon Flowers, appearing from behind the floor-to-ceiling curtains of The Killers’ diamond-shaped O2 Arena stage. “You’ve got to give the world irrefutable proof that you are who you say you are. We’re The Killers and we’re a great rock’n’roll band.”

“Here…” he beckoned as the curtains dropped, and a confetti cannon burst into the opening strains of Sam’s Town. “Lemme show you…”

One of this century’s great frontmen, the 43-year-old’s energy has never visibly dimmed over a 20-plus year career, and stepping out for the first of six nights at the venue, he remained flawless, like a box-fresh Ken whose job is simply: ‘stage’.

Clad in a red blazer like indie’s greatest showman, Flowers was a ringleader of spectacle as much as a world-class vocalist and, ahead of their imminent Las Vegas run, the band had lined up a show that transported London to the casinos of their hometown. The floor was carpeted, the screens towering and glitzy; everything about the production contained maximum world-building razzmatazz that turned the O2 into a stadium-worthy immersive extravaganza.

 (Chris Phelps)
(Chris Phelps)

Established festival headliners and arena-slayers for many years now, sometimes it’s easy to forget just how massive The Killers are, but it’s worth noting that their current O2 run matches that of Billie Eilish, who’ll play six nights next year.

It’s a feat that few guitar bands these days will ever manage, and yet the ease of their opening night was like that of an established residency. They spent time bringing crowd member Janie up to play drums on For Reasons Unknown, and later served up a cover of Tom Petty’s American Girl, noting that their invitation to induct him into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame was “the easiest ‘yes’ in Killers history”.

The Killers themselves, you suspect, will be joining them in the Hall of Fame history books as soon as they become eligible. From a soaring early When You Were Young to the ominous synths of Smile Like You Mean It, through the epic euphoria of Read My Mind and All These Things I’ve Done, complete with its centrepiece chant (“I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” – as stupid and brilliant as it ever was), they plied the giddy crowd with an endless barrage of classics.

Even with a smattering of big hitters, including a sorely-missed The Man, kept back presumably for future nights of the London run, they give more bang for your buck than any other modern band.

Ending, of course, with Mr. Brightside, their Rebel Diamonds tour might be decked out like a Vegas gambler’s paradise, but there’s no doubt that The Killers emerged from the O2 as unequivocal winners.

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