The Killers, Wembley Stadium – 22 June 2013.
Alright alright, it’s been a while hasn’t it. I know I promised in depth accounts of my 80s throwback (which was about 3 weeks ago now, oops), but there’s reviews about that up/going up on H&H so you can read them if ya care to – in a nutshell Siouxsie Sioux blew my mind to pieces and Pet Shop Boys had me grinning from ear to ear throughout the entire set – both were fucking fantastic. Oh and a week later Johnny Marr cemented himself as still the coolest man on earth, I think I like him doing certain songs more than i like Morrissey doing them as it goes ~oooh~
Somewhere inbetween that though, in true last minute (day before frantically panicking) fashion, I found myself on a train at 5am on 22nd June headed to Wembley to see The Killers. I never got a ticket because I live on the basis of hating big venues, regardless of the fact I’ve only actually been to about four, oh and it was bloody expensive for me too. However after meeting up with some hardcore Victims on the Thursday night in London, I couldn’t help myself and ended up emerging from the fire, so to speak, having made the greatest last second decision of my entire life to date.
Back to the matter in hand though, at 7am I stumbled bleary eyed and pale towards the old arch in the rain and joined a queue of campers in the rain wondering how I was going to survive ten hours, letalone the gig itself – I’d barely listened to Battle Born recently (I have never queued that long before but it was so much fun I fully intend to do it again when needed, this is not sarcasm it genuinely was quite great) but nonetheless, I made the quickest friends of my life by quite literally tempatation of ‘I have a picnic blanket, you have plastic bags, it’s pouring with rain, I think we could work something out here’ and from thereon i spent the entire day chatting with these 2 people, plus 2 others that were infront, not catching any of their names and later losing them in the mad rush to get in, sorry I got to the front of that queue and wasn’t waiting for anyone, worth it – IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE ONES THAT HAD BEEN TO “THAT BERLIN SHOW” – AS YOU PUT IT – AND HAPPENED TO BUY ME A PILLOW/CHICKEN NUGGETS AND SHARE YOUR DUVET WITH ME, ENDLESS THANKS.
But after that drama was avoided, we were in, second row was obtained which was like heaven when you’ve only ever seen a band 20,000 people back, another gate had been let in before hence the instant shock when I told everyone in front of me on the barrier, including security, i’d been up since 4am letalone the campers, as they’d all sauntered in at 3pm, jammy buggers. And soon, despite the complete I am going to die I am so tired why did I do this wall soon hitting, James were on. I’d seen a section of James at Hard Rock Calling with them and never been greatly overwhelmed, the dancing was kinda terrifying, so I wasn’t expecting much and rightly so, they played an alright set with some nice instruments (melodica’s an’ all) but the sound was all over the place and very loud – I still only knew Sit Down (no one did), moving on.
The Gaslight Anthem came next, I went through a phase where I adored them a few years back and I still really did like them a lot so that was a nice bonus for me and they really do play very well – stuff like The ’59 Sound naturally went down a treat and despite being the only person in my section that appeared to care, I springsteen growled my way through the set. I am still yet to check out the new album but it certainly made me want to, Brian Fallon seems like an alright bloke since the last Killers slagging off anyway.
Out of nowhere the stage was flipped around then for the arrival of 4 dudes from Las Vegas – not that you didn’t get told that fifty times already – or rather just the one, no lights went down, no music, no expectancy and suddenly there was Brandon Flowers sitting by a piano sweetly singing Enterlude and far too close for me not to go into shock, beautiful. Within seconds though, the calm had been destroyed and the power three had stormed onstage and burst in When You Were Young, unexpected; yes, succeeding at transforming the entire stadium into a mass of shouting and sore jumping feet; of course. The Killers had arrived and my energy had gone from nothing to The Incredible Hulk, the anger taken out on the group around me not jumping around for every song in order to film on their iPhones (why why it was being filmed properly why why) – of course.
Anyway the visuals were up and the thunder kept ’em coming, Spaceman, Smile Like You Mean It still absolutely incredible and even The Way It Was an initial hate of mine sounding pretty damn good, you can’t underestimate the power of Flower’s vocals, they really rarely falter, especially on tracks like that. Then we were treated to “an old one, we haven’t been playing them for a while” in the form of This River Is Wild, undoubtedly my favourite Killers track live and seemingly even more poignant when stood at the front of their biggest gig to date and Bling furthered that feeling.
Next came Shadowplay a long running joke hate of most Killers fans these days in a stance of “why can’t they play another one of THEIR songs” but unfortunately for them I love it, it’s stood out live since the very first time I saw it and everybody should love it for lasers alone – and with Dave Keuning lording it up with his guitar, he knows it’s his moment, he knows– it’s utterly brilliant – again everyone in my area appeared to be having a breather for more filiming at this point, yes the lasers filling the entire place did look pretty special but do you really need to take 40 awful blurred pictures of it – (I’ve been gathering a recent sharp stance on this issue since my view of PSB‘s was blocked entirely by a tablet for 90% of the show – in contest with the security’s strict “no photos no filming” commands – and, of course, I take a few shots of the impressive stuff , you have to, but filming an hour of it on your Blackberry is just fucking idiocy, i’m digressing but there were many wembley offenders not to be left out, shall we say)
After that we got Human, Somebody Told Me and Miss Atomic Bomb so as expected the stadium exploded – a triple hit of singles is expected to live but you forget quite just how many they do have that are this great, it’s at times like this you gotta feel that taking this long to headline Wembley leaves them cruelly underrated, they’d certainly crushed that by this point – the visuals were ace too. A “stealin’ back” of Tommy James & The Shondells’ I Think We’re Alone Now is still a confusing choice to get your head around, but the guys again pulled it off effortlessly and we all lapped it up too (I’m finding it really really really really hard to properly review them because everything was just SO GOOD) prior to a quite literally tugging at the heartstrings rendition of Here With Me, by orders of Mr Flowers the entire stadium was filled with lights – a very good use of your phone at a concert might I add, I can quote he “don’t want my picture on your cell phone” – and despite being yet another sappy version I had hated previously, it was possibly one of the standouts of the night and the enjoyment was visible from the entire band, even Mark Stoermer himself – now there’s approval for you.
For Reasons Unknown briefly saw Brandon on bass, always nice, and Mark on none other than a ES-335, for all you guitar buffs out there – I can concur, it sounded beautiful before dancing shoes were donned for From Here On Out and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. showed everyone else up with one of the longest most incredible drum solos I have ever experienced in my entire life – there’s a reason his name is ‘Unstoppable’ and I think even the rest of the band were in sustained awe, if you buy the DVD for nothing else, make it those few minutes. Then of course came A Dustland Fairytale, which vaguely knocked me for six, watching it live in recent years has become painful purely on the sentiment behind it and tears were definitely visible, it may’ve been just me but it felt everyone sang every word louder wth more determination including Flowers and it was much better for it. Then we had “Wembley Song”, I’ve never once cried at a concert, (I was reduced to tears at the end of The Killers HRC set back in 2011, but that was more fireworks and pain) but this came the closest in living memory – I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve heard it multiple times but just in case, it was a nod to the bands that had previously played and a document of the band being taken in on UK turf as our own, I may not have been there as a confessed fan from the very start but I’ve never felt more pride in them or anyone else about it, you could sense everyone else did too – there’s even some humour too, essential viewing video below.
Just to finish off the emotions, we got Read My Mind, a song that’s existence I had merely forgotten in recent months that sounded incredible along with Runaways, ever destined for the sweeping stadium performance, Dave and Mark both had their moments too – brilliant. Finally, All These Things That I’ve Done kicked in, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to see The Killers you will know that everyone might have their own favourite but live, this is the one – so I did what any great daughter would do and I called my mum, she hung up the first time thinking it wasnt me, but when that “I got soul” chant kicks in, even your mother sat politely in the lounge probably watching Eastenders knows it – it’s the single most brilliant line Brandon Flowers ever has written and I don’t think it’s become a burden either, leaving 90,000 desperately delighted voices chanting at their top of their voices after RV again had set to work smashing the drum kit to near pieces with stick power and some fire fueled explosions had shocked us all to near death – I’ve never seen a burly security guard jump quite so much, even with headphones on.
Naturally though, when you’ve got that many people clamouring after you , they’re not gonna be left waiting, and in no time at all, the band trooped back on to the stage and unleashed the thunder once again with Flesh And Bone, albeit with an interjection of Happy Birthday to Mr Flowers himself, the cries of what are you made of? set the rest of the tone and every fist was in there air from then on in. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine is really a very hard track to flaw, Stoermer has his moment – heck he even smiled again – and the boneshaking is evident, the day they leave this out will be the day of great sadness, it was definitely another complete standout of the night, even above all the others.
Penultimately, much to my delight, Battle Born was launched into – this song was built for stadiums and the band know it, Keuning was parading around the stage and winking at the audience with guitar crying Reich derived riffs (Electric Counterpoint, anyone?), Vannucci stormed through once again, Mark looked subtlely epic and Brandon did his best to channel all the emotion whilst doing the barrier walk and having every female and male member of the audience clamber after his hand – a successful feat for me at least anyway, and within four minutes The Killers had cemented everything that was right about them playing Wembley, the pinnacle of The Killers’ success may be summed up in that live performance (complete with the blasts of confetti still littered accross my bedroom floor and everywhere else possible) and, trust me, if it only goes downhill from here (it wont) I will be sufficiently satisfied with their offerings, as i’m sure the rest of the crowd would agree.
Obviously after that there was only one song left, one song that is arguably the most important for the guys and one song that everyone, everyone, in the stadium knew and despite seeing them four times now and listening to Mr Brightside from the ripe old age of 8 years old, it has never ever sounded as good as that. I don’t think my feet, or anyone else’s in my vision’s, touched the floor for about 3 1/2 minutes and I guarantee that nobody had a voice by the end – the drums crashed and on the note of “thank you”, the band dived offstage leaving behind a trail of completely awestruck people.
I was wandering round for about ten minutes in the stadium watching everyone leave having cameras placed in my hand to take commemorative photos of anyone that happened to seize me and had no idea what to do – that’s the general consensous of an end result of a killers show it appears, but after as if by magic walking straight into a friend, stumbling through the merch stand and sharing my chips with strangers in the tube queues I found myself on the last train out of Waterloo, thankfully going vaguely half near where I lived, only to read everyone I knew making a battle of a journey up to Highbury for an aftershow gig that had been announced at 8pm – I didn’t suck it in at the time and it’s probably just aswell, I would’ve probably never made it and become estranged in Camden all night, but it had to be the one night I didn’t check twitter didn’t it?
Anyway the point is The Killers have finally got the hell of the recognition they have awaited so long and I almost missed it, but by the blessing of incredible company and now being incredibly skint, we got there by the skin of my teeth and damn was it awesome. I’ve genuinely tried to make this a sensible review but I gradually appear to have got myself more and more emotional as its gone on (did anyone notice that) and there are real tears in my eyes currently, this time 2 weeks ago those final bars were played and I still couldn’t be more happy or proud to be a fan. Nice one lads.
In other news, I apologise for the overly sappy nature this blog descended into – it’s such a mess I didn’t even proof read- but however cool I try to be, it purely means a lot and they wholeheartedly deserve the fuss I promise.
And in other other news, I’m sorry for the lack of recent blogs but to make up for it; Harkive is happening Tuesday so I’ll stick up a day of listening post for that for some interesting insight for you all, then I’m going to Lovebox on Sunday for Hurts/Frankie Knuckles/Factory Floor/Kelis/Purity Ring/Goldfrapp etc. and it’s gonna be ace so expect that soon, as with my Marr & PSB reviews that should be on H&H soon. Following that Redfest, then I’m fucking off to Turkey for 2 weeks and coming back in time to see a britpop band, I don’t know whether you’ll know much about them though, I’m pretty quiet about it….
Oh and a final note to say how genuinely gutted I am about the demise of SHARKS, if you haven’t heard them yet, it’s not too late to check them out, they’ve had 3 incredible albums now and were on the brink of something ace. I really hope they continue being musical if seperately because there was insane talent there…Ta for reading.