Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Killers at Wembley Stadium, London - 22/06/13

Playing Wembley Stadium is a feat few bands achieve in their career, but for The Killers, last Saturday's gig at the 90,000-capacity venue holds further sentiment in that it marks a decade since the band's first ever UK gig, at intimate club, The Dublin Castle in Camden. In those ten years, the band have released four studio albums, ranked up 20 million worldwide record sales and played countless festival headlining slots, all of which have culminated to this mammoth gig at Wembley - their largest performance to date.

The band took to the stage just before 9:00pm, with Brandon Flowers playing 'Enterlude' solo on the piano. The set then got underway with fan favourite 'When You Were Young', followed by the equally energetic 'Spaceman'. Flowers' vocals were on top form throughout the two-hour gig, though it was the Battle Born material that really demonstrated his range, most evidently on 'The Way It Was' and 'Miss Atomic Bomb' - both of which were highlights of the evening. The rest of the band also showed great musicianship, in particular Ronnie Vannucci, who played an impressive extended drum solo that led into 'From Here On Out'. Other key tracks included, 'Read My Mind', 'A Dustland Fairytale' and Sam's Town rarity 'This River Is Wild', while songs like 'Human' and 'Runaways' kept the pace flowing and momentum high.

The most surprising moments of the night came in the form of a cover of 'I Think We're Alone Now', while 'Wembley Song' paid tribute to artists who have previously played at the venue. The track also reflected upon the band's career, with lines of "Mr. Brightside had you scratching your head / When you heard we were from Vegas / But you were positive it was Sheffield or Camden... You took us in like your own" being a clear reference to Britain's early embracement of the band, and how this support shaped their rise, from the days of 2004's Hot Fuss right up to the present sounds of Battle Born. It was perhaps inevitable then, that 'Mr. Brightside' - complete with fireworks and confetti - would round off the superb four-track encore and draw the fantastic evening's performance to a close.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Fine Acoustic Listens: The Village Sessions - John Mayer

After the rich, soulful sounds of John Mayer's third studio album Continuum, I was curious and perhaps slightly sceptical at the thought of an acoustic EP based on that album. Though this is due in part, to the fact that, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I prefer listening to music with a full band rather than acoustically, in the case of The Village Sessions, there were more factors which contributed to my general lack of excitement prior to its release. Firstly, I love the production on Continuum, the instrumentation holds a consistent warmth and fullness that is complimented by slick arrangements and Mayer's thought provoking lyrics, overall culminating in a soulful, solid sound that runs throughout the album. However, it was attending the live shows throughout the Continuum era (and listening to all of the amazing fan-made recordings from the tours) that gave me a fuller appreciation of the album - the songs just sounded so damn good live, arguably even better than on record.

As it is, The Village Sessions is a thoroughly enjoyable acoustic listen and a fine accompaniment to Continuum. The six-track EP features five songs from that record, plus one track from Mayer's 2005 live album Try!, that was recorded as part of the John Mayer Trio. The EP is worth obtaining if only to hear 'Waiting On The World To Change', a fantastic collaboration with Ben Harper. The addition of Harper's vocals on the chorus and the stripped down breakdown of the middle 8, gives the track an irresistible groove that in my opinion, is far superior to the studio version that appears on Continuum. Another key track on the EP is 'Belief', which despite having considerably less instrumentation, and a more relaxed tempo, delivers just as much impact as the original. 'Good Love Is On The Way' is another surprising highlight. I would never have thought an acoustic rendition of this track would have worked as superbly as the original that features on Try!, but this version succeeds in its acoustic approach, mainly due to Mayer's impressive guitar skills and bluesy vocals, of which he freely experiments with key changes and ad-libs. The Village Sessions is an overall refreshing and endearing EP, with acoustic re-workings that add an interesting new dimension to the original recordings.