At the Pacific Coliseum on Monday, December 3
After taking a couple of years off, Las Vegas rockers the Killers have been on the comeback trail in 2012 for Battle Born, the band’s first album in four years. The quartet’s Pacific Coliseum appearance on Monday night aimed to prove that frontman Brandon Flowers and company were ready to get back in the ring.
Cockily trotting onto the stage with his bandmates in tow, the singer greeted the crowd with a melodious “Hellooooo Vancouver, it’s been a long time” before launching into the new number “A Matter of Time”. It was the first of many to work the Killers’ familiar Springsteen-meets-glam-pop vibe, and it immediately got the crowd cheering. The all-smiles all-the-time Flowers spent the majority of the tune ecstatically stomping on the monitors, pointing to the rafters, and tugging at the buckles on his tight black leather jacket. He’s still an over-the-top performer, for sure, but considering the tour for 2008’s Day & Age had him rocking a peacock-feather suit jacket, the singer’s current greaser inclinations hint that he’s at least in a more modest fashion phase these days.
Hard-hitting and fabulously hirsute drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. proved to be the second most entertaining figure on-stage, mugging his way through songs when not riling up the crowd with fist pumps. Guitarist Dave Keuning displayed flashes of magnetism, occasionally lifting his axe in the air, but for the most part, he and bassist Mark Stoermer just idly flanked their frontman.
While the Killers played plenty of Battle Born tracks, the oldies proved to be the fan favourites. You could feel the energy in the room surge as Flowers hopped behind a lightning bolt–shaped keyboard stand to wobble out the familiar synth lines of “Smile Like You Mean It”. Other highlights plucked from the band’s back catalogue included driven performances of “Human”, “Mr. Brightside”, and—rising above a clunky and cavernous bass intro from Stoermer—the dance-rock gem “Somebody Told Me”.
There were also some standout new tunes, like the swooning piano ballad “Heart of a Girl”, which had Flowers stop mid-song to question the etiquette of exactly when to call a woman once she gives you her phone number. “I decided to call the girl that night; I ended up marrying her,” he recalled while seated behind a piano. The romantic roller coaster “Runaways” likewise hit the right notes, but the ham-fisted cellphone-picture sentimentality behind syrupy snoozer “Here With Me” showcased how easily the band can slip into stadium-rock bloat.
The biggest and best hooks prevailed, however, with the anthems “When You Were Young” and “Battle Born” closing out the show under a rain of pyrotechnics. The latter’s never-give-up spirit, accentuated by Flowers’s powerfully triumphant tenor, showed that, despite the odd misstep, there’s still a lot of fight left in the Killers.