Ask The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers what Boston has contributed to society, and he’ll give you a laundry list. Actually, he’ll do it totally unprompted, just like he did at TD Garden Sunday night (January 7), citing Benjamin Franklin, Dunks’, ’80s-era Celtics, and The Cars as the town’s blips in the historical timeline. Fans gathered at the arena were thusly rewarded with a rendition of “Just What I Needed,” a new wave staple that Flowers could nail without half his band. Which, of course, he did, since he and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. were the only OG band members on tour for this go around.
When you were young, The Killers surfaced on the radio as some Las Vegas kids singing about a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend, but following the release of Wonderful Wonderful, their 2017 album that received a lukewarm response (if that), the quality of their newer alternative jams now lingers in question. But the festival circuit had faith in them, slapping the band on the bill for our own Boston Calling and Napa Valley’s BottleRock, as did the 19,000 fans gathered at TD Garden on Sunday.
As for Flowers himself? Well, his take on the whole situation is still TBD.
“There’s a quote I love,” Flowers told the crowd, prepping himself to drop some Ernest Hemingway wisdom. “There’s nothing noble about being superior to your fellow man. True nobility is being superior to your former self.” He left the tidbit dangling in midair, sans context, simply slinking into a Malibu sunset rendition of “I Can’t Stay.”
The Killers remain in a clique of rock bands that no longer allow press photographers in the pit, and it’s a pity, really, because even the newest iPhone doesn’t have the capacity to contain the futuristic design of their onstage landscape. Geometric video panels melded together like tangrams, sewing together a barren desert landscape that quickly burned into bucking neon cowboys for “The Man.” Flowers bathed in fluctuating red space lasers as he stood at the ready with his keyboard for “Smile Like You Mean It.” It’s times likes these when the band’s Vegas showmanship roots come through.
All things considered, the group spread the musical wealth accordingly, selecting an obligatory five songs from Wonderful Wonderful, the first five tracks off their immaculate debut Hot Fuss, and a fitting zero tunes from Sawdust, filling in the gaps with the highlights of Day & Age, Battle Born, and Sam’s Town (hey, despite the record’s reputation, it has its worthy moments, sporting “Read My Mind,” “When You Were Young,” and “For Reasons Unknown”).
But whether critics felt Wonderful Wonderful lived up to its title or represented the antithesis of it, The Killers put on a show that’s totally devoid of complacency when it very well could be. Flowers performed with the eagerness of a frontman who’s still getting used to arena gigs, even though his career has whipped him into a sequined and seasoned pro, and their ever-changing stage design not only looked award-show level expensive, it assuredly was and requires way too many people to break down every night. Despite being around long enough to rest on their laurels, they don’t; that’s why nearly 20 years into the game, The Killers are still worth making a hot fuss over.
Featured photo by Rob Loud via The Killers; follow Victoria Wasylak @VickiWasylak.