The Killers with Travis at 3Arena, Dublin, on Thursday, 12th June, 2024

Travis were, perhaps, the kooky outsiders-made-big of the early-00s indie-pop scene. Loaded with desperately morose anthems delivered through the shimmering sheen of massive sing-alongs, the self-described “soap dodgers from Glasgow” never had the polish, poise or even the confidence of many of their counterparts. But boy did they have the depth.

We told Brandon we’d love to come along, but did he know we’re going to try and blow them off the stage every night?” Fran Healy says of the band’s return to arena level shows. Looking small on the 3Arena’s monstrous stage, that was never quite going to happen, but Travis do proceed to demonstrate in short form why records like the particularly engaging ‘The Man Who’ were quite so pervasive in their time.

In a quickfire set, Healy and co whip out classics like Sing, Driftwood, Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (an inevitably boisterous closer with band-requested pogoing), and Side, but also remind us that outside of their oddly repetitive moments (we’re looking at you Sing, and Turn), their lyrics are profound, lightly gritty and possessive of the same downbeat brand of Scottish poetry that sits behind Frightened Rabbit, or the likes of Idlewild’s quieter corners.

Flowers In The Window is “busked” (all four members stand around a single mic), and contains an odd moment where Healy’s guitar is played, still in place against his stomach, by two other band members while he stands arms aloft. Life-exploring newbie The River is as starkly beautiful as anything more established, and the slight graveliness and slow-build of it all is wonderful. Travis may find themselves today positioned as more of a memory than anything else, but they’re a dreamy, evocative and charming one well worth of further exploration.

The Killers, of course, are arguably 20 years on from their finest moment themselves. Stratospheric debut album ‘Hot Fuss’ still shines as their career’s brightest moment, riddled with hooks and the kind of ear-wormy simplicity that only a fresh-faced garage rock band can hope to get away with. Their modern incarnation has taken a distinct turn in the direction of the overblown, camp, and showbiz, but thankfully those early moments are still able to shine.

For the 20-year anniversary, in fact, there is a notable focus on that earlier material. In the opening bars, a slowed-down nod to Read My Mind morphs into a thundering sing-along in Somebody Told Me, with Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, relative deep cut On Top and an anthemic Smile Like You Mean It all rolled out in the opening half hour.

In amongst it all, for all the quality of the band, it all feels like the Brandon Flowers show, and that show is Vegas massive. Clad in a glittery reflective suit, he milks songs, sometimes barraging through without a pause for breath, and at other times playing on those slow-down moments to prolong the highs.

On Spaceman, we’re reminded, surreally, that the song “predates it being acceptable to believe in aliens”, and at another moment Flowers pauses to thank fans for rising above criticism of the band to stick with them, calling his crowd the most important ingredient of The Killers.

It’s the spread of tracks and the way they flow into each other that lifts the evening, however, with The Killers performing a set that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Riddled with light teases of their biggest moments (Human, in particular, feels like it’s teased at least three times before actually being played) and with lesser known offerings nicely spaced out, it’s a set that drives and pulsates, held back, oddly at times, only by some of its more pointedly artistic moments.

A Dustland Fairytale, for example, is something of a Flowers origin story, and the closest The Killers get to long-form epic, with a serious Queen-light feel to it. It’s winding and lyrically clever in a way that The Killers don’t always manage (let’s face it, there is some epic lyrical nonsense to be found in some corners of their back catalogue), but despite all its potential, it’s actually the boisterous, instantly accessible stuff that delivers a better time.

The flip side is in transitions like the one that takes us from Runaways to All These Things That I’ve Done, the exact kind of soaring pace change that makes sense of the band’s slow-switch from punchy early moments to their latter day maximalist feel.

A nod here, too, to the magnificent staging. Designed and delivered by Dubliner Steven Douglas, who tours with the band, the Vegas natives perform in a stage the shape of an overblown box, angled with a point to the crowd, with a backdrop of sparks, confetti, lasers and videos often referencing their home or their lyrics. It’s stadium excess, and while Flowers has the feel of a born showman, he’s sometimes dwarfed behind his ‘K’ keyboard stand and beneath his towering lights.

Another aside worth noting is the return to the live realm of Dave Keuning, with the long-haired guitarist slotting right back into a role he hasn’t really filled outside of the studio since way back in 2017, strutting and posing to Flowers’ left.

When You Were Young is another soaring moment highlighting the sheer power of Flowers’ voice, but the winding five-track encore is perhaps the highlight of the evening. Stepping in slowly with Your Side Of Town and Boy, the gradual build of the closing mini-set is immediately typical of what The Killers do: suck you in with their more modest moments, before the massive sing-song euphoria of the big singles.

A cover of Erasure’s A Little Respect at first seems an odd choice, but again serves to highlight the power of Flowers’ voice, before the twin hit of Human (finally) and the iconic Mr. Brightside close out proceedings with the crowd seemingly leading the band along.

Midweek, Radio Nova had a brief moment talking about a DJ in Colchester who charges for requests, and puts a huge fee on certain songs. Mr. Brightside, presumably by dint of being absolutely everywhere, was the highest cost at a whopping £1,000 request fee per play. For some, The Killers’ biggest moment has become jaded. For the thousands in the 3Arena, though, this is an act that’s simply adding more and more polish to the long standard arena tours, and their punchy finales are not a jot short of euphoric.

We’re The Killers, and we’re in the service industry”, Flowers quipped early on, and so it proves. If accessible, enthralling, high-paced entertainment is the aim, The Killers no-holds-barred approach and love of rehashing their biggest and best moments is right on the money.