The Killers 5/14/14

(a) setlist

    1. Spaceman
    2. Somebody Told Me
    3. The Way It Was
    4. Smile Like You Mean It
    5. Bling (Confession of a King)
    6. Human
    7. Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
    8. For Reasons Unknown
    9. From Here On Out
    10. A Dustland Fairytale
    11. Heartbreak Beat (The Psychadelic Furs cover)
    12. Read My Mind
    13. Runaways
    14. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore:

  1. Shot At The Night
  2. A Matter of Time
  3. When You Were Young
  4. Mr. Brightside

(b) highlights

  • loooooooool, this setlist, who do you think you are opening with “Spaceman,” covering both CCR and the Psychadelic Furs, closing with “WYWY” and “Mr. Brightside” (we all nearly passed out) AND playing “A Matter of Time” for basically the first time in 5ever.
  • the energy of this show was next level; it’s always great to see the band for the first time in a long time because the crowd feels starved, the band wants to perform at level 11/10, and everything feels familiar and new all at once
  • I don’t think of us (including the band??) realized Mohegan Sun was an arena, so we were shocked at the reception of it all; hearing “Shot at the Night” echo against arena walls is bone-shattering
  • I say this after pretty much every show, but this night, in particular, was a great one for Ronnie Vannucci Jr. There was, uh, some magic sparks flying around that venue and that’s all I’ll say about that. P.S. I caught his drumstick that night. Always a treasure.
  • I freaking LOVE that the band decided to give “A Matter of Time” another chance; for some reason, it – along with “Deadlines and Commitments” off Battle Born – became neglected during the proper tour. The band has a habit of playing deep cuts in the UK, getting a lukewarm reaction, and then shelving those tracks before they hit the US. This shit irritates me to no end because 1. why does the UK get to decide what the US hears, 2. the US has a history of liking songs the UK does not (e.g. “Midnight Show”), and 3. the situation has never happened in the reverse where the US dictates what the band takes abroad. It’s a small point, but an important one. “A Matter of Time” needed, uh, time to ruminate and grow with audiences; every victim was freaking ecstatic the moment it began. Side note: it looked like Brandon’s forehead was going to pop during the final verse like, whoa.
  • the “From Here On Out” drum solo gave me life the entirety of 2013 and 2014, and the only reason I allow that song to exist in my memory and occasionally on my iPod.
  • I literally never say this at Killers shows, but Joywave was probably the best opening band I’ve seen in years. Well done.

(c) lowlights

  • if you’re wondering what it’s like to wait in line for over a day and half, sitting in a casino in the middle of Uncasville, Connecticut and arguing with everyone from the stupid security to British fans, I assure you – it’s not fun.
  • I had JUST finished writing my Masters’ thesis this week and was on serious meds from a crappy as hell sickness that I was still getting over. How I survived this show, I’ll never know.

(d) overall thoughts

This show was a bit of a surprise. First of all, it should be sort of surprising to anyone that a band can have a great show in somewhere called Uncasville, Connecticut, especially in a casino. Second of all, it’s sort of shocking that a casino – again in a place called Uncasville – would actually house a full-fledged arena with a legitimate setup. Third, Brandon Flowers openly admitted somewhere during the beginning of the show that the band themselves didn’t even realize they were playing an arena that night. No one should have a great show in a casino in nowhere Connecticut, but The Killers sure as hell did.

The week of this show was strange and more emotional than usual for me. I had quite literally the day before turned in my Masters thesis that I had spent over a year working on and was graduating the following week. This tour was devoted to Direct Hits, a best-of compilation for my favorite band who somehow managed to keep capturing my heart after a decade of official releases, and I was somehow seeing them at this crossroads of my life, all approaching the 10-year anniversary of the album that sold me and the world on this brilliance, Hot Fuss. In Uncasville. What a topsy-turvy experience.

To put it simply, this surprise of a show was an awakening. To delve deeper, it was an awakening for me not just as a fan, but a fan who’s been around since the very beginning. People always, always ask me and my friends: how can you see them, how can you see a band so many times, hear the same songs, the same speeches at the same places, over and over again? Because of shows like this one. They surprise you. The band surprises you and they surprise themselves. I remember feeling like this show would be a one-off stop, an obligatory show for this compilation album that no one really asked for, and something to keep us hanging on until the next real release. And it was, but it wasn’t. Sure, Battle Born had been released nearly two full years previously and that album and tour felt very much over, but it’s only when tours are over do some songs get the chance to shine. “A Matter of Time” was a pleasant surprise, and the band played it with a bit of a fuck-you attitude – a stance that very much conveyed, “See? This is a GREAT song. We told you.” I didn’t mind the aggressive way it was played, though it was a bit confusing for Brandon Flowers to try to prove something to an audience that never claimed they didn’t want to hear it. (Note: See point about the UK ruining everything for US fans above.) A part of me wished they had also played “Deadlines and Commitments” – another virtually ignored song from Battle Born I wished since Day 1 was regularly rotating in the set. But I digress.

It’s because of “A Matter of Time” and CCR (who doesn’t love CCR??) and the Psychedelic Furs and hearing “Shot At the Night” in all its glory why being a fan of The Killers is so great. Yeah, they’re going to play the same 12 tracks always – sometimes even in the same order! – throw in some covers, and maybe a sneaky song or two, but it’s in the presentation of those songs that we thrive.

I remember the band being very connected that night. Brandon talked about his dancing shoes (as always), Dave was a bit more fired up than usual, Mark was pleasantly present, and Ronnie was exceptionally engaged. It didn’t matter that they openly had been so checked out that they didn’t even know they were playing an arena, and openly admitted that Direct Hits was label-mandated; it mattered that they knew they had to perform in every sense of the word. They had to show up, they had to perform, they had to surprise. And they did. At the end of the night when they all bowed together, the smile they had across all their faces suggested they even surprised a bit of themselves.

 

Bottom line: Approaching the 10-year anniversary of Hot Fuss, The Killers could’ve easily put out their best-of Direct Hits, half-assed a couple of shows, and called it a night. But they didn’t. They played a solid as hell show in goddamn Uncasville, Connecticut and sold it like it was their first time. Huzzah, Brandon, Dave, Mark, and Ronnie. That’s why we love you.

uncasville

Photo by Sana Masood

Kaiser Chiefs 2/19/14

(a) setlist

    1. The Factory Gates
    2. Never Miss A Beat
    3. Everything Is Average Nowadays
    4. Everyday I Love You Less And Less
    5. Bows & Arrows
    6. Little Shocks
    7. Coming Home
    8. You Can Have It All
    9. Modern Way
    10. Ruffians On Parade
    11. I Predict A Riot
    12. Ruby
    13. Misery Company
    14. The Angry Mob

Encore:

  1. Cannons
  2. Oh My God

(b) highlights

  • yooooo, this setlist is ace – I loved everything from the new tracks of Education, Education, Education & War like “The Factory Gates” to the verified classics like “Modern Way”
  • I’m pretty sure “Bows & Arrows” is in my top 3 or 5 Kaiser Chiefs songs. Ever. God, I just want to run down the street and scream-sing, “We the people, created equal! We the people, created equal!” and that feeling is the best.
  • this was my first time seeing Kaiser Chiefs is nearly 7 years and it was awesome. To see how they’ve grown (and slimmed down, in the case of Mr. Wilson) musically and as performers was pretty staggering.
  • the on-stage banter was top-notch and Ricky engaged with the audience a ton, including bringing a dude on-stage to slow dance during “You Can Have It All.” Total highlight.
  • if “Oh My God” wasn’t one of your favorite songs during the early to mid-2000’s, you’re lying.
  • I uncharacteristically stayed after the show and met Ricky and Simon, which was a bit of an out-of-body experience, to say the least. I remember being 14 and singing “I Predict A Riot” in my bedroom the summer of 2005 and now Ricky Wilson is telling me I look like a young Carrie Bradshaw. What is this world.

(c) lowlights

  • does wearing the exact same Kaiser Chiefs shirt as the dude next to you count?
  • The Music Hall of Williamsburg could have better sound, man. If you’re not standing dead-center, you’re a bit off.

(d) overall thoughts

As I mentioned, this show was the first time seeing Kaiser Chiefs since their release of Yours Truly, Angry Mob back in 2007. I’ve been a fan since Day 1 of hearing “I Predict A Riot” back during the NME Tour of 2005 when Kaiser Chiefs first started kicking things around with The Killers, Bloc Party, and The Futureheads during that summer. Unlike many stupidly-popular alt-indie rock bands today, Kaiser Chiefs started out not only with solid songs but an undeniable stage presence. They wore silly suits, skinny ties, and eyeliner like the rest of them, but Ricky Wilson was also climbing up rafters, hanging off balconies, and climbing into crowds. Even in 2014, that excitement was still there. During new songs and old, Ricky was throwing micstands around, swinging the mic by its chord, and engaging with the small theatre as if it were a festival with – dare I say it – even a bit more energy than I remember.

Sure, some things were different about this show than ones in previous years. Nick Hodgson, the drummer and notable songwriter of the band had gone and been replaced by a pretty cool dude named Vijay Mistry. Many indie snobs predicted the end of the band once Nick stepped away from the band just before the recording and release of Education, but – in all honesty – I don’t think the band suffered much. Ricky, most notably, had starred as one of the judges on the British version of The Voice, which was and is still bit weird to think about as a fan. Again, many naysayers decried this as the end of Kaiser Chiefs and the ultimate selling-out point, and in any other context I would be inclined to agree. But after seeing this show and hearing Education – naw, we’re fine. This is Kaiser Chiefs, man. They made a concept album about war, invoking the British WWII experience of rationing, keeping calm and carrying on, and have freaking Bill Nighy recite a long-form poem during “Cannons.” Does anyone really consider that selling out to pop crowds of The Voice?

There’s a lot you can say about Kaiser Chiefs – hell, even I’m not the biggest fan of every single album they’ve done (The Future Is Medieval is a real low-point for me in their discography) – but you can’t say that they don’t bring energy and commitment to every performance. Ricky was up, down, and all-around that stage, up on speakers, down on his knees, a bit more spry than I remember him. It’s difficult to not love them and want to entirely lose your shit during “Everyday I Love You Less And Less” and “The Angry Mob,” and even more significantly, when you can’t help but want to throw your arms around new tracks like “Bows & Arrows,” “Coming Home,” and “Misery Company.” Kaiser Chiefs very much came back with this show even though they never really left.

Bottom line: Education, Education, Education & War wasn’t even fully released by the time we saw this show but we all already knew that it was going to be a great album. And it was. It’s easy to make claims that bands are over when members leave – even key songwriters – but easy claims aren’t always real claims.