This is probably not a cool thing to say, but the Killers are one of my all-time favorite bands, and last night I finally got to see them play live. It was unreal—between songs, frontman Brandon Flowers bantered about Portland's "Rip City" nickname and basked in the wild applause of a sold-out Moda Center.
Fellow early 2000s nostalgia act Franz Ferdinand opened the show with crowd-pleasing hits like "Do You Want To" and "Take Me Out." I was never a huge FF fan in my youth, but enjoyed how singer Alex Kapranos did some cool twirling dance moves while the other dudes just bopped around. Apparently the Scottish indie rock band is still making music—they just released a single called "Always Ascending," the title track of a new LP coming out in February.
Pink confetti flurries and a booming, god-like voice announced the Killers' arrival: "Who's got gas in the tank? Who's got money in the bank?" Flowers, drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr., a couple of other guys (bassist Mark Stoermer and guitarist Dave Keuning are sitting this tour out), and three truly amazing backup singers ripped into "The Man," the disco-infused lead single of the Las Vegas rock band's new album, Wonderful Wonderful.
I'm not sure whether these are the same Killers I've loved for 13 years if only half of the original members are still touring, but they sounded fucking great. A gong loomed mysteriously behind Vannucci, Jr. throughout their set, which featured a healthy mix of songs from each album. Major highlights were "Smile Like You Mean It" (from their 2004 debut, Hot Fuss), arena rock anthems "For Reasons Unknown" and "Read My Mind" (from 2006's Sam's Town), "Dustland Fairytale" (a deep cut from 2008's Day and Age), plus a cover of Joy Division's "Shadowplay" (they recorded a version for 2007's Sawdust).
They also played "Shot at the Night," the lead single from the band's 2013 compilation album Direct Hits, and the catchy '80s synth breakdown (very reminiscent of a Sandals commercial) made me realize something: Brandon Flowers just might be my generation's Barry Manilow. (For the record, I also love Barry Manilow, so that's definitely not a dig.) Even if the Killers continue to crumble as the years pass, I can't imagine Flowers will ever leave the stage. In fact, I can totally picture myself attending his Vegas casino residency in 40 years (fingers crossed).
The stage design was a little weird—the backup singers stood behind illuminated venus symbols while Flowers played keyboard behind a gigantic mars symbol (big man!). Another thing: When he sang about shame and unquenchable fire and judges and holy ghosts and disciples, the whole thing really started to feel like it was verging on rapturous Christian rock. As a lapsed Catholic, that shit gave me a miniature identity crisis.
The Killers closed out their set with another confetti drop and the highly belt-able track "All These Things That I've Done." I had to hustle across town to the Mercury's holiday party, but I'm told Flowers changed into a shiny gold suit for the encore, "The Calling," "When You Were Young," and, of course, "Mr. Brightside." I'm definitely bummed to have missed those songs, "but it's just the price I paid, destiny [the open bar] was calling me."