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Friday, 23 November 2012

The Killers at the O2 Arena, London - November 16 and 17, 2012

Though I was excited to be seeing one of my favourite band's play live, I attended The Killers' two gigs at London's O2 last Friday and Saturday with an open mind.
Just days before, the band were forced to cut short their show at Manchester's MEN Arena after four songs, following Brandon Flowers' complaint of a sore throat.  Consequently, Flowers' vocal problems resulted in the band having to cancel the following night's show.  Upon reading this news online last Wednesday - just a few days before the O2 gigs - I was disappointed at the number of comments criticising Flowers, many saying that a sore throat is not a good enough reason to finish a set early/cancel a show.  While I can see how a sore throat may sound like a minor problem, as a vocalist myself, I know that in some instances it can be a sign of major vocal problems, such as laryngitis or nodules.  Yes, these problems may not be as common as cold or flu, but sometimes it just isn't worth taking the risk, especially in the case of Flowers, who relies on his voice for his profession.  On a side note, a lot of the band's material, including many of the songs on their latest album Battle Born,  are vocally demanding, even more so for a male register, so it's understandable that Flowers would want to be cautious if suffering vocal difficulties.  In the many times I have seen The Killers over the years, I have only known them to put on a fantastic show, and I don't think it would have been an easy decision for the band to close their show early and cancel the next evening's performance, however I felt Flowers handled the situation in the best way he could.  If he had of continued with the show, he could have risked causing long term damage to his vocals, which would have affected future gigs.  Not to mention the possibility of concert goers leaving the gig disappointed that Flowers wasn't on top form.  Instead he acted professionally by apologising repeatedly to the crowd and explaining the problem, instead of just walking off stage like many other bands might have done if faced with the same issue.  I can understand why the crowd that night would have been disappointed.  However, both shows have been rescheduled for February next year, and ticket holders have the option of a refund.

Luckily, Flowers seemed to have recuperated in time for the O2 gigs as he took to the stage to deliver impressive performances with the the rest of The Killers on both nights.  He referenced his sore throat at both shows, explaining what had happened in Manchester and that he was now feeling OK.  I definitely got the feeling he was eager to make up for the lost gigs from earlier in the week and the quality of music and the generous sized setlists on both dates at the O2 reflected this.

Out of the actual performances, I though Friday's gig was the strongest of the two.  Opening with 'A Matter Of Time' from Battle Born, the band then launched straight into early classics 'Somebody Told Me' and 'Smile Like You Mean It'.
These much loved tracks appearing so soon into the setlist really got the crowd invested in the music and created an energy which remained present for the entire gig.  Flowers' vocals were clear and powerful throughout, only showing strain momentarily during 'The Way It Was'.  However, this didn't detract from what was a great live version of one of my favourite tracks from Battle Born.
Later in the set, a cover came in the form of Oasis' 'Don't Look Back In Anger', which Flowers claimed they were hoping to play in Manchester.  While tracks like 'Human' and 'Runaways' went down a storm with the crowd, key moments for me included 'Miss Atomic Bomb' and 'Read My Mind'.  A three track encore of 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine', 'When You Were Young' and 'Battle Born', complete with fireworks and confetti drew this impressive gig to a close.

Saturday's performance was more different than I expected, not in terms of song choices, but the order in which they were played, and the atmosphere that came as a result.  For example, the band opened with 'Mr. Brightside' with the house lights on for the duration of the song.  I had mixed feelings about whether playing this song first in a setlist would work, however it got the crowd going straight away, and I admired the unique approach the band took in deciding to play it so early on. Though having the house lights on in an arena like the O2 felt strange at first - I actually turned to my friend to ask if he thought there was a problem with the lighting - it gave the atmosphere in the arena a united, festival-like quality.
Saying that, I was glad when the lights dimmed and the band followed up with 'The Way It Was' and 'Smile Like You Mean It'.  Flowers' vocals were once again on fine form and shone throughout the gig, particularly on 'A Dustland Fairytale', which was a highlight of the evening.  This was followed by a cover of U2's 'With Or Without You'.  Once again, a three track encore closed the set, with 'All These Things That I've Done' replacing the the previous night's 'When You Were Young' as the penultimate song of the night.

Though the band delivered solid performances, I felt there was a lack of variation from Battle Born over the two gigs.  I was disappointed that 'The Rising Tide' and 'Deadlines And Commitments' were absent from both evenings setlists, and I find it odd that 'Flesh And Bone' was also nowhere to be seen.  However, I was impressed at the length of the setlists and the stamina of the band - the songs came thick and fast - much to the delight of fans watching.  Whether they are playing intimate nightclub venues, or arenas and stadiums, The Killers are a band that know how to put on a great show.

Setlist
Friday November 16:
'A Matter Of Time'                                    
'Somebody Told Me'                      
'Smile Like You Mean It'                                
'Spaceman'
'The Way It Was'
'Heart Of A Girl'
'Bling (Confessions Of A
 King)'
'Shadowplay'
'Miss Atomic Bomb'
'Human'
'Here With Me'
'For Reasons Unknown'
'From Here On Out'
'A Dustland Fairytale'
'Don't Look Back In Anger'
'Read My Mind'
'Runaways'
'Mr. Brightside'
'All These Things That I've Done'

'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine'
'When You Were Young'
'Battle Born'


Setlist
Saturday November 17:
'Mr. Brightside'
'The Way It Was'
'Smile Like You Mean It'
'Spaceman'
'Bones'
'Tranquilize'
'Bling (Confession Of A King)'
'Miss Atomic Bomb'
'Human'
'Somebody Told Me'

'Here With Me'
'For Reasons Unknown'
'From Here On Out'
'A Dustland Fairytale'
'With or Without You'
'Read My Mind'
'Runaways'
'When You Were Young'


'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine'
'All These Things That I've Done'
'Battle Born'


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Track of the Day: You Make Loving Fun - Fleetwood Mac


'You Make Loving Fun'the fourth and final single to be released from 1977's Rumours - is not only a great pop song, but a fine representation of the musical era from which it came.  Aside from rich, melodic verses, it's the chorus that makes the track so joyous - Christine McVie's vocals glide effortlessly over a funky groove, perfectly timed against harmonic backing vocals.  The result is a glorious, uplifting sound, which is further enhanced by Lindsey Buckingham's impressive guitar work.