The Killers
The Killers | Credit: Maclay Heriot (via Frontier Touring)

The Killers Review – Las Vegas Stars Bring World Tour to a Stunning Close in Sydney

The Killers performed at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena – and Liberty Hall – on Monday, 19th December. David James Young reviews.

Within minutes of The Killers arriving on stage at Qudos Bank Arena, confetti exploded from a row of cannons placed near the barricade. It wasn’t for one of the band’s signature hits (rather, 2020’s ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’), nor for a crucial moment in the song itself. Truly, it was a muscle flex – an indulgent, confident move executed purely because they could.

As Brandon Flowers ran from one side of the stage to the other, rallying seventeen-thousand devotees with a blend of preacher man conviction and Las Vegas razzle-dazzle, one thing was abundantly clear: this was not The Killers’ first rodeo.

The Killers – ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’

Since rising to arena status on the back of 2006’s multi-platinum Sam’s Town, The Killers have cemented their place atop the contemporary rock totem pole. There’s always a risk of an artist’s performances becoming formulaic as a result of playing the same set-list of songs in similar venues every night. So, how do The Killers continue to make each show feel vital? Consider the three Cs: catalogue, creativity and catharsis.

To the first point: after opening with ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’, The Killers came through with a hat-trick of 2000s indie classics, ‘When You Were Young’, ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’ and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’. Considering how dated many singles from that era sound in 2022, it’s to The Killers’ credit that their hits have survived in this way.

Songs like the electric ‘Caution’ and the pensive ‘Pressure Machine’ demonstrated that the band still have plenty in the tank artistically. Even when it seems like you’ve done it all, you have to go back out there with something to prove – and The Killers, evidently, are in it for the long haul.

The Killers
(Maclay Heriot)

To the second point: even when you have so many adored songs at your disposal, you still need to present them in a way that is fresh and serves as a point of difference to the studio version.

The powerhouse work of drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. – the engine room of the band – often dictated the ebb and flow of the live renditions. There were also subtle blends and reinventions, like the wailed hook of ‘Runaways’ giving way to the wafting synthesiser of ‘Read My Mind’, or the opening notes of ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ sustaining for several minutes purely to induce an increasingly-feverish reaction.

No matter how many times The Killers have run through these exact movements, played these hits, and Flowers stuck out the mic to let the audience finish his sentences, each moment is reborn night after night thanks to the revelry of the audience.

(Maclay Heriot)

To the third point: all different ages flock to The Killers, from the millennial diehards reliving their teens, to the enamoured Gen Zs who discovered these songs through cultural osmosis, and the blushing mums letting loose at their annual “rock concert”. (Sidenote to the latter: What an intergenerational treat to have America’s Gerry Beckley come out for a surprise rendition of ‘Sister Golden Hair’.)

No matter who you are, where you’ve come from and what level of fandom you’re at with The Killers, there’s something to be gained by being in attendance and losing yourself in the spectacle.

After the deafening sing-along of ‘Spaceman’ transitioned directly into a spirited rework of ‘Mr. Brightside’, the night ended for most of the audience. You could’ve walked out of the venue wholly satisfied after such a performance – and yet, for a select portion of devotees, there was more to be done, making a cross-city dash from Olympic Park to Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter, where The Killers were playing a very sold-out encore set at the newly-reopened Liberty Hall (FKA Max Watt’s).

The Killers
The Killers at Liberty Hall (Maclay Heriot)

Given the circumstances, it was only fair they opened with Hot Fuss deep-cut ‘Midnight Show’, which still felt as electric and exciting as it did circa 2004. For the next hour, a lucky few hundred watched as the unfatigued band powered through another round of catalogue classics and obscure fan favourites.

The band’s beloved cover of Joy Division’s ‘Shadowplay’ rubbed shoulders with setlist staple ‘Human’, while the Phoebe Bridgers-assisted ‘Runaway Horses’ was given a trot (sadly sans Bridgers) before another galloping ‘Mr. Brightside’ and a one-two of the criminally-underrated ‘Bones’ and ‘Run for Cover’.

The surreal nature of seeing this arena-filling band in such close quarters made the entire show feel like a fantasy sequence – resulting in a reality that we wish could have lasted just a little bit longer.

Further Reading

The Killers, Ben Lee & The Veronicas Played Private Melbourne Show For Liberty Financial

Meg Washington Has Covered The Killers’ Debut Album ‘Hot Fuss’

The Smiths’ Johnny Marr & Andy Rourke Perform Smiths Songs Together In New York

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