“We’re The Killers, brought to you by way of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada,” sinewy frontman Brandon Flowers announces midway through the synth-rockers’ long-awaited stadium tour kick-off at Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium. Before he has even finished, he cuts himself off. “Let’s try this again,” comes the wry addition, before he points to the luminous familiarity of the city’s iconic boulevard welcome behind him. “We even brought the sign!”
It feels strange that this is the first time the band who went stratospheric with debut Hot Fuss have committed to a jaunt of this size in their adopted homeland. Britain has always proven fertile ground for the four-piece – of which only Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr are along for the live ride – and arguably the biggest moments in their career, from a hallowed Wembley Stadium sell-out to blockbuster Glastonbury headline sets, hail from these shores.
Save a tiny warm-up in Sheffield, this three-week engagement is comfortably the biggest run of their career – not that you’d necessarily know. From the ticker-tape-strafed explosion of opener My Own Soul’s Warning, The Killers arrive in a blaze of slick bombast and maximal emotionalism. Flowers, a resplendently gold-suited showman, need not work a crowd that spans six-year-olds to gently bobbing pensioners; their cross-generational appeal bursts giddily free whenever he fronts up another slice of hook-heavy hitmaking, a glorious cocktail of Anglophilic eighties pop and Springsteen-esque fusillades.
That quickfire affinity emboldens the band in a way others would be wary of with enormo-gigs – When You Were Young, Jenny Was a Friend of Mine and Mr. Brightside are all dispatched before the halfway mark has even heaved into view. Material from 2020’s Imploding the Mirage and last year’s stark departure Pressure Machine hold up with less of the beeline-for-the-bar action such songs can inspire too; there are few missteps throughout, though the omission of glorious latter-day sex-funk hit The Man might be one.
Throughout, Flowers holds court with sheer magnetism. He’s double-bent and confessional on the beefily menacing live staple cover of Joy Division’s Shadowplay one moment and defiantly soaring on the widescreen Runaways the next. His energy is irresistible – and by the time Human and All These Things That I’ve Done have helped close out proceedings in another blast of confetti and communal singalongs, he stands triumphant on the riser. He needn’t have brought that sign – The Killers have enough neon passion to light up any sky.