Las Vegas indie-rockers The Killers have just concluded the East Coast series of a nationwide tour, bringing the show to a close in New Jersey at the Susquehanna Bank Center. Fans from across the state packed in to see the “Mr. Brightside” group strut the stage. One of the most popular bands in the world, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the citizens of New Jersey came out in strength to show their support.
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The Killers broke into mainstream consciousness following their acclaimed debut, “Hot Fuss.” Several albums later, the band are continuing to tour on a large scale, taking in hundreds of venues across their relentless touring schedule.
For those who were fortunate enough to get tickets, the show-ready nature of this band was obvious from the opening chords. “All These Things That I’ve Done” was a clear high point. Brandon Flowers’ vocals were strong and confident, and the performance was one that was designed to immediately win over an already very supportive crowd.
The set was surprisingly old, and some commentators have even suggested the lack of newer songs to be a surprising feature of their set. While the old anthems saw the crowd almost expectedly raise their voices, some of the set flow choices seemed confusing – particularly the choice of ending with the stage rendition of “Battle Born.”
The song seemed to lack the raw audience interaction you would expect from a closer. The last song should be about thousands of fans uniting under a tune they really connect with. Unfortunately this wasn’t “Battle Born” on the night, although the pyrotechnics did look very impressive.
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“Battle Born” is the title track from the band’s fourth full-length album, and came a full four years after their previous effort. The name comes from the words emblazoned on the flag of Nevada, which has also been used by the band to name the recording studio they own in which most of the album was tracked.
While the song lends its name to the most recent album and supporting tour, the decline in engagement levels of revelers was palpable, and the crowd seemed to become restless toward the end. That’s not to suggest that the song is weak – for The Killers, the problem is some songs are just too close to the hearts of their die-hard fan base that this can color impressions of newer material.
The Killers were returning to the Susquehanna Bank Center-the venue in Camden, NJ following on from a rearranged date from earlier in the tour. Vocalist Flowers pulled out ahead of the sold-out show, citing vocal problems as the basis for canceling the show. Unfortunately, earlier support from Tegan and Sara was no long available for the rearranged show, and New York band The Virgins stepped in open the show.
One of the highlights of the performance was a brief cover of Springsteen’s classic “Atlantic City,” aptly chosen because of the location on the night. It is touches like this that endear The Killers to crowds across the US, and that have helped them become one of the most popular touring bands in the country.