The Killers brought some Las Vegas flair to Philadelphia on Sept. 27, performing at the Wells Fargo Center for their “Imploding the Mirage” tour. The Killers understand the importance of putting on a good show, but they’re not overly flashy by any means. Rock ’n’ roll at heart, the band’s showmanship comes from a catalog bursting with crowd-pleasers and an incredible skill for curating a celebratory live presence.
Singer, Brandon Flowers, donned a sparkling gold jacket to conduct the crowd through a myriad of hits. The show kicked off with the opening track from “Imploding the Mirage” titled “My Own Soul’s Warning,” a song which seems to have been written for that moment.
Confetti cannons fired as its catchy synth line lifted the melody and the audience along with it. The show then settled in with Flowers behind a keyboard decorated with a giant, glowing infinity sign. He properly welcomed the audience with “Enterlude,” singing “We hope you enjoy your stay / it’s good to have you with us / even if it’s just for the day.”
Aware that the moment was fleeting, The Killers wasted no time in getting to their established tracks. “When You Were Young” was followed by a double shot of songs from their classic debut album “Hot Fuss.” Not long after, “Human” was teased with a vocoder intro and lasers lit up, “Somebody Told Me.”
Being at a Killers concert really puts their talent and success into perspective. As the show progresses, you feel slight surprise that they’re playing hits so early in the set, but then as the hits keep coming it sinks in just how many solid songs this band has.
Drummer, Ronnie Vannucci, was a joy to watch all night. His enthusiasm often propelled him out of his seat and he never missed a beat as he steered the band through the set. It was apparent why he has been the most consistent band member other than Flowers. Even when the show had ended and the rest of the band had exited, he stayed on the stage to rally the crowd for another few minutes of cheers.
Vannucci wasn’t the only drummer to perform that night. The Killers brought a fan named Tyler onstage to play during the second half of “For Reasons Unknown,” and he absolutely nailed it.
Then the band began the last stretch of the main set with “Dustland Fairytale.” In 2021, The Killers released a version of this song featuring Bruce Springsteen, but The Boss did not make an appearance. Instead, he joined them for their show at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 1 for a three-song encore that included “Badlands,” “Dustland Fairytale” and “Born to Run.”
The rest of the main set was my favorite part of the show. “Runaways” felt massive live, and the triumphant chorus displayed Flowers’ ability to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand. He conducted us to repeat the refrain after the music had dropped out and as soon as we were accustomed to the pattern, the synth intro of “Read My Mind” began, making for a thrilling transition.
The major issue I had with “Imploding the Mirage” was that the grandiose songs felt forced as if they purposely reached for the jubilant heights The Killers usually get to effortlessly, but fell just short. I am happy to report that I did not have that experience when hearing those songs live. The back-to-back run of “Dying Breed” and “Caution,” the latter featuring a backdrop drenched in sparks, was a wonderful experience. “Running Towards a Place” which was played in the earlier part of the set was also very effective.
There was a notable absence of material from the 2017 album “Wonderful Wonderful” and their most recent album “Pressure Machine,” a concept record about Flowers’ childhood home of Nephi, Utah. I feel that those two albums are some of the strongest work in their discography, albeit having very different tones musically and thematically from one another. I anticipated the possibility that “Pressure Machine” could be overlooked, but I admit that I was surprised, and slightly disappointed, to not hear at least one hit like “The Man” or “Run for Cover” from “Wonderful Wonderful.”
The Killers took a victory lap with their final songs, pulling out the classic “All These Things That I’ve Done” and the poppy, yet cryptic, “Spaceman.” After a whirlwind of seemingly endless winners, there was one champion yet to enter the ring– the timeless “Mr. Brightside,” which, as expected, received the biggest reaction of the night.
There is an element of reckless earnesty in The Killers which is not to everyone’s tastes, but their commitment to working by their own rules is admirable. Their brand of anthemic indie-leaning pop rock has taken on various shapes across their career, but it’s all played into The Killers’ vision – one which I’ve bought into since discovering them as a freshman in high school. The Killers know that a portion of their crowd are curious radio listeners who just enjoy “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me.” While they play to all types of fans, the band commands the stage as if everyone in the room has been along for the ride since the beginning.
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