Monday, December 24, 2012

Thrilling Killers Provide Hope for Rock's Survival -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

The Killers
with opening act Tegan and Sara
UIC Pavilion, Chicago
December 21, 2012

The world didn't come to an end on 12/21/12, but if the apocalypse had come, I hope the Mayans would've timed it to allow me to see Friday night's Killers concert in full.

It wouldn't have been a bad way to go.

Ironically, after taking the stage to a recording of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World (and I Feel Fine)" and launching into "Mr. Brightside"--see my video clip at bottom--the Killers wound up having their superb show cut a song short, not by the Mayans, but supposedly by an 11:00pm curfew.

But by then, the Las Vegas-bred foursome, accompanied by two touring musicians, impressively demonstrated why they stand as one of the best bands in the world right now. And, along with Arcade Fire, Coldplay and the Black Keys, one of the few arena-filling rock acts arising in this century that might fill out a benefit concert roster in 2030, such as The Who, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Roger Waters and Paul McCartney just did with the 12-12-12 show for Hurricane Sandy Relief.

Beyond simply being popular enough to fill a 10,000-20,000-seat venue, there is an art to being a great "arena rock" band, notably the ability to make an arena rock, and the fans within it, truly shake.

Although The Killers' first two albums--Hot Fuss and Sam's Town--were both among my 10 favorite albums of the '00s, the first time I saw them, in 2007 at Sears Centre Arena, I was pleasantly surprised by how great they were, not only as a live act, but as an arena act.

After seeming a little lesser in January 2009, also at the UIC Pavilion, they once again truly dazzled me on Friday night throughout a 100-minute gig that felt just about perfect in pacing and performance. That they sounded so good to me was especially impressive given the cold--as in extremely chilly, but also rather sterile--confines of the Pavilion (I like arenas, but not particularly this one).

Like 2008's Day & Age, the Killers' 2012 album Battle Born also seems a good deal shy of their first two discs. But one of the things that makes the band an excellent live act is their ability to showcase recent material in ways that make me reassess it.

New album cuts like "The Way It Was," "Miss Atomic Bomb," "From Here On Out," "Runaways" and "The Rising Tide" mixed in well with older material and helped me reconsider the depth and quality of Battle Born.

Of course, past gems like "Mr. Brightside," "Spaceman," "Human," "Somebody Told Me," "Read My Mind," "When You Were Young" and "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" also went over great with the sold out crowd. (See the full Killers Chicago setlist on

And though "Battle Born" was supposed to be the show closer--per past setlists and the notes on was nixed due to curfew, I doubt many fans rued ending the night with "All These Things That I've Done," which, in sound, scope and stature, has become The Killers' "Where The Streets Have No Name."

All in all, it was just a terrific show by a terrific band, featuring a smart, well-paced setlist, an impressive light and video show and just the right amount of stage patter from Brandon Flowers, who has become a pretty great frontman.

Adding to the evening's enjoyment was an excellent opening set by Tegan and Sara, a duo comprised of identical twin sisters.

Though I had heard of them, I wasn't familiar with their music, but I genuinely enjoyed everything I heard over a 9-song set. (Tegan & Sara Chicago setlist)

Even though I perceived myself to be older than some of the fathers bringing their daughters to this show, I nonetheless want to have reasons to be attending rock concerts 10 years from now.

So it was encouraging to see the Killers (and Tegan and Sara), do what they do as well as they do it. While being grateful the world didn't end, let's hope that rumors of rock's demise are forever premature, as long as bands like The Killers continue to survive.

First, here's a clip of The Killers taking the stage to a recording of R.E.M.'s "It's The End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" and launching into "Mr. Brightside" [partial], shot by me:

And here's a six song YouTube playlist of songs from the Killers Chicago show on December 21, with videos uploaded by vivacoldplay and coldplay0129, neither of whom I know: 

No comments: