Going Live: The Killers

The Killers2Photos Cred: Jenny Good

Who: The Killers
Where: Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto
When: September 6th 2009

A Labour Day weekend in Toronto marked by one of the last big rock shows at the intriguing Molson Amphitheatre is quite a way to witness the death of summer. Especially with a headlining act named The Killers.

Getting there was problematic. With the Canadian National Exhibition attracting swarms of people, it was hard to get to the venue. The disgusting amount of traffic, confused security guards and last-minute changes didn’t help the situation either. Such obstacles did block me from witnessing the spectacle that is Wolfmother. But as some declared, singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale howled at the dim sky with a nostalgic rock swagger the music world seems to be missing.

My eyes did get to set their sight on The Killers though. Looking around the venue, fans were packed from the floor to the lawns. The density of this crowd was unparalleled even by the Nine Inch Nails’ set the week prior at Virgin Festival. The Las Vegas quartet took the stage and kicked off their night with the one-two punch of “Human” and “Spaceman” – both from their latest effort, Day & Age. As the latter transitioned into “Neon Tiger”, the show transformed from a dance rock party into something reminiscent of an 80s’ glam affair. From guitarist Dave Kuening’s eyeliner and flamboyant attire, to the full and polished sounds of the drums, and especially the background video screens displaying cheesy colour-changing tiger stripes, I couldn’t tell if I was watching a band performing in 2009 or 1989.

The Killers1

The band tore through known favourites from their 2004 breakthrough Hot Fuss including “Somebody Told Me”. They also ventured in and out of some more obscure tracks like “Bling (Confessions of a King)” from their sophomore record Sam’s Town. My desire to actually see Wolfmother came to fruition when the band invited the Australian rockers to join them onstage for a very effective cover of The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. Stockdale took this opportunity to jam out intense solos and fuzz which added an interesting contrast to The Killers more fluid approach to rock music.

Not being known as particularly outspoken at live shows, frontman Brandon Flowers stopped the crowd at one point to give a background story of a song. He compellingly explained how his band was aimlessly wandering Las Vegas as individuals until they were culled together. When that happened, so did a song and that track ended up being the provocative and enticing “Mr. Brightside”.

The Killers5

Despite the packed crowd and it’s enthusiasm (taking it upon themselves to chant “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” for Flowers during “All These Things I’ve Done”), it’s hard to not think of Billy Bob Thornton’s remarks about Canadian crowds. “It’s like mashed potatoes without the gravy.” The beats were infectious and there were a lot of fist pumps and heads bobbing to and fro, but dancing in the aisles was scarce. Maybe as we move back indoors for shows to shelter us from the forthcoming winter, that will change. The city of Toronto likes to keep warm and the best way they do that during the cold spell is by dancing in a bold and dignified fashion.

One that would even provoke The Killers to take a trip back to the 80s’ themselves.

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