The Killers headline show in Phoenix Park was always going to be an odd one. As soon as it was announced, there was far more excitement about the support bands than the headline act. It’s also the first Irish show The Killers have done since LegoGate (where GoldenPlec recreated The Killers February O2 show with Lego after being denied a photo pass). That’s all water under the bridge now as The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci gave his seal of approval to GoldenPlec’s own Claire Beck on Phantom 105.2 during the week.
First up were three sisters and a mister, Haim. They delivered a rousing and passionate performance. The widespread acclaim is well deserved as they have the chops to back up the hype. Jumping between guitars, synths, drums and of course sharing vocal duties with some beautiful harmonies. From the stop-start momentum of Forever to the snarling Let Me Go, Haim are shaping up to be one of the best new bands this year.
Representing Ireland today on this predominantly American bill are (somewhat) local heroes, Two Door Cinema Club. Opening with Sleep Alone, the band get an instant mass-singalong but they themselves look somewhat distracted. Despite every song being note-perfect, it takes them a few songs to find their feet. With an arsenal of excitable, fun, pop songs you wish they’d have a bit more fun on-stage. By the time we get to the jitter-pop of I Can Talk, the Bangor lads are on top form.
Musically, Frank Ocean is the red herring today. A risky move putting him on after the wide-eyed excitement of Haim and the jitter-pop of Two Door. With a voice that’s smoother than silk and looking effortlessly cool, Frank Ocean delivered a slow, swelling and subtly sexy set. His set covers most of his debut album ‘Channel Orange’ with highlights coming from Bad Religion where he plays the entire song completely focused with his eyes closed. That’s followed by the mid-tempo 9-minute heavy synth throb of Pyramids.
The Killers certainly have given themselves some tough acts to follow. What we get with their 90-minute set is a tour-de-force of their most powerful songs with a handful of surprising covers thrown in for good measure. They’re now four albums into their career and eager to justify their place headlining shows this large. Opening with the synth-tinged, Somebody Told Me, sets pulses racing from the first few notes.
Singer Brandon Flowers is an impressive front man. Racing around the stage with the boundless enthusiasm of a younger man as if he’s playing his first big headline show. It’s a slick, well polished show where the theme of the night is a bombastic showcase of their biggest hits. Surprise cover of the night comes in the form of I Think We’re Alone Now which sits uncomfortably in the set but the glowing crowd reaction means it has served its purpose.
Whilst guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer look removed from the proceedings, Flowers employs every trick in the book to pick up the slack and keep the crowd with them; a task he seems to have no issue with. He does this with enough passion to convince you that he’s genuine. From the ‘Baile Atha Cliath’ name dropping, to the ‘Behind the Music’ style introduction to All These Things That I’ve Done.
The moment when the sun sets and darkness comes over the Phoenix Park is when The Killers’ show comes into its own. They’re a band with songs about as subtle as a brick to the jaw so the darkness does wonders to increase the scope of the spectacle. The show-closing power trio of Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, When You Were Young and Mr. Brightside show us just why The Killers deserve to be booking shows this big. These songs demand mass singalongs from thousands of people and when accentuated by stage-flanking fireworks and a waterfall of sparks you can’t imagine them being playing anywhere smaller than this.
Where The Killers go from here seems completely up to them.