Wednesday night Chuck and I saw The Killers at the WaMu* theater in Seattle. I bought the general admission tickets a couple of months ago on a whim. After doing a little research on the venue, I was a little worried about the mixed reviews. I was having a really hard time trying to find anything that would tell me what the floor/seating setup was for general admission tickets, and I was a little worried about spending several hours standing. (Chuck’s not getting any younger, you know.) With that and the fact that I haven’t been completely sold on their newest album Day & Age, my expectations weren’t super high. Let me tell you, I was wrong. Dead wrong. The Killers—I know I should be avoiding the obvious here, but—killed. Big time.
We arrived at the venue about an hour early since we weren’t familiar with the set up, and were relieved to find that while the floor up by the stage was standing room only, there was tiered seating not too far back. We settled into a couple of seats (padded even!) six or seven rows back just off from center, and had a great view of the stage. I think we were maybe 50 yards back from the stage.
The opening band, Wild Light, came on at 8 o’clock. They’re an Indie rock/pop band from New Hampshire with a pretty cool laid back sound. They played a ten song set from their new album Adult Nights (nice name, huh?). While there wasn’t anything particularly impressive about their stage presence—they had a few kind of shy, awkwardish interactions with the audience—we enjoyed them. They’re a four man group who share the vocals and the instruments. It was kind of cool to see them mix it up with the lead vocals, and the songs with multi-part harmonies were great. A couple of my favorite songs were Lawless River and Red House. (You can listen to the songs here. Stay clear of California on My Mind if you’re not one for f-bombs.)
They opened with this song, New Hampshire (the camera work on this is pretty suckish, but the sound was better than on the other videos I could find):
Overall, I think it’s a pretty good album—one I’m tempted to pick up. And as far as relatively unknown opening bands go, I thought they were great. It was definitely worth arriving early to catch them before The Killers came on.
After what seemed like forever (we seriously waited a good 45 minutes after the opening act), The Killers came on stage. The audience, of course, went wild, and after a “You guys are all right” from Brandon, they started right in with Spaceman then followed that up with another off the new album, Day & Age, This Is Your Life. Then they kicked it up with a fan favorite from Hot Fuss, Somebody Told Me, and followed that with For Reasons Unknown from Sam’s Town.
The set was a great mix with all of the albums being pretty evenly represented, and included all the fan favorites. At least this fan’s favorites. Here’s the set list from the Seattle show:
1. Spaceman (Day & Age)
2. This Is Your Life (D&A)
3. Somebody Told Me (Hot Fuss)
4. For Reasons Unknown (Sam’s Town)
5. I Can’t Stay (D&A)
6. Joy Ride (D&A)
7. Bling (Confession of a King)–(ST)
8. Shadowplay (a Joy Division cover off Sawdust, a compilation album of b-sides, covers and re-mixes)
9. Smile Like You Mean It (HF)
10. Human (DA)
11. The World We Live In (DA)
12. A Dustland Fairytale (DA)
13. Sam’s Town (ST)
14. Read My Mind (ST)
15. Mr. Brightside (HF)—(bizarre video made awesome by the creepy Eric Roberts)
16. All These Things I’ve Done (HF)
17. Bones (ST)
18. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine (HF)
19. When You Were Young (ST)
Brandon Flowers has great stage presence and a kind of subtle, dramatic energy. There wasn’t a ton of storytelling or audience interaction, aside from the invitation to sing along with some of their more popular chorus lines (I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier!), but Brandon was a great host. He did introduce a few of the songs in a round about, poetic kind of way. Before For Reasons Unknown he said (and I pieced this together from a few frantic notes I made on a napkin found on the floor), “Ever been in love Seattle? Sometimes love comes quickly and as easily as a beautiful girl with her hair falling down over her shoulders. Sometimes love goes quickly. You wake up one morning and the butterflies are gone. And you want it back—you want to fight for it. You want to breathe that fire again.”
He started to introduce Mr. Brightside, but then changed his mind for some reason and they ended up just launching right into the song. I found the introduction we missed on a youtube video of a show earlier this year:
Like I said, I had kind of low-ish expectations after reading some mixed reviews. One reviewer said they seemed to be going through the motions at the concert he attended. I didn’t see that at all in Seattle. They looked like they were having a great time, and seemed to have a genuine appreciation for the fans. Another reviewer said they sound even better live than on their albums. I didn’t really get that until I experienced it. I hadn’t been super excited about Day & Age, longing for the edgier, more raw sound of Hot Fuss, but hearing them perform the tracks live has really sold me on the album now. I considered it a little mellow before, but they picked up the tempo and really kicked up the energy for the live performance, and I had a new appreciation for these songs, especially This Is Your Life and The World We Live In.
Overall, it was a fantastic concert experience. Brandon sounds great live. He really has an amazing voice. They put on a fun, exciting show (complete with confetti launchers and pyrotechnics!), and their choice to pretty evenly represent all of their albums, including all the fan favorites, showed, I thought, a real deference to their fans.
If you were totally anti-Killers before, seeing them live likely wouldn’t change your mind. But this was definitely not a show only a die-hard fan could love. No doubt on the fencers would find themselves pretty solidly in the fan camp, and fans like me who thought it might be kind of nice to catch them live once, will likely find themselves picking up another ticket next time they’re in town.
Not that you can tell from this pic, but we really had a great view of the stage (Chuck took this with his cell phone). That speck on the left side is lead guitarist Dave Keuning.
*Another side note about the venue. I read some complaints about crappy acoustics. Now heaven knows I don’t know jack about acoustics, but for me the sound was just fine with the normal amount of distortion one would expect from a live show. I thought the music and vocals sounded great. I had come prepared with ear plugs, but didn’t end up using them. Not once did I find myself instinctively bringing up my hands to protect my eardrums, and I didn’t experience any tell-tale ringing as I left the show. So the sound, I think, was at least something that the WaMu got right.