LIVE REVIEW: The Killers, Sam Fender, Emirates Stadium, London, 03/06/2022
Photo Credit: Rob Loud
Good things come to those who wait, which was definitely true for The Killers fans who’d been waiting since the initial tour announcement in 2019 for the Las Vegas outfit to return to the UK. But tonight, we were at Arsenal’s home turf of the Emirates Stadium for night one of their two-night residency at the iconic football ground. This was the Imploding The Mirage tour.
The tour has seen a number of supports accompanying the band and tonight’s happened to be Sam Fender; a passionate Newcastle United fan playing the home of the Gunners. Straight into Will We Talk? Fender and co. seemed at home on the stage, despite this being their first stadium show and as he politely explained, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t totally shitting my pants before I walked out here”. Now with two albums behind him, the set was heavily made up of newer Seventeen Going Under album material; offering fans the chance to get involved throughout as seen during Get You Down.
From the heavier rock-twinges of Howdon Aldi Death Queue to the most beautiful moment of the set with a double emotional hit of Spit Of You and The Dying Light. Written as an ode to his father, Spit Of You was breath-taking as Fender’s vocals were intwined with a simplistic guitar backing, with everyone’s attention firmly fixated on him. The Dying Light is a standout track off the latest album, but when performed live the emotive power it possesses reached a peak. Taking to the piano for the introduction, Fender took the time to look out into the busy venue to appreciate what was before him then captivated every audience member with the smooth vocals singing of the desire to overcome the powerful thoughts in your head. Sam Fender simply is one of the best songwriters of our generation, but also when performing with his band becomes part of one of the most solid music units on the scene. Whether it’s Johnny ‘Blue Hat’ Davis stealing the show on the saxophone during The Borders or Joe Atkinson always having the greatest time on keys, it’s a group of great friends who love every moment on these stages. This energy was reflected within the crowd who gave Fender a fond farewell during arguably his most known track Seventeen Going Under. Fans were taking to shoulders, a choral effort singing occurred and we have a feeling it won’t be too long til Fender is playing venues of this magnitude in his own right.
After a quick hoover of the stage (yes you read that right!), the London sun was setting and The Killers kicked off their set with Imploding The Mirage opener My Own Soul’s Warning. A sea of confetti engulfed the crowd and it was then we knew that Las Vegas’ finest were back in town!
Brandon Flowers has gained a reputation for being one of the greatest frontmen and showmen out there, living up to this as he commandeered the crowd during fan favourite When You Were Young. Taking the time to remind everyone, “there ain’t nobody isolating tonight!” this rung true as the crowd united for a flawless rendition of their hit Smile Like You Mean It.
Working their way through the set, Shot At The Night showcased the impact the supporting vocalists had on tonight, complimenting those provided by Flowers who had a constant smile fixed on his face during the night. Tonight’s varied setlist feature tracks from across the band’s discography and a couple of unexpected but incredibly loved additions. There was a chilled moment as they took on Joy Division’s Shadowplay and a guitar focussed cover of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Oh, and then there was the momentous live debut of Pressure Machine. Prior to Pressure Machine, Flowers informed the crowd that the song was a request from a fan who has supported the band a lot, little did we know until after the show that this was none other than BBC Radio 2 legend Jo Wiley! This special moment was made even more stunning with the emotive vocals and flawless musical accompaniment.
A sold-out 60,000 capacity didn’t intimidate The Killers with them being the professionals they are, but during For Reasons Unknown a very special guest was brought out onto the stage who probably wasn’t so used to it. Within the crowd was a fan called Patrick with a sign asking to play the drums for the track, to which they obliged as this has become a special part of their set. The pure shock and elation on their face was simply everything, but when they hit every beat, knew when to stop and seemed like part of the band it was simply magical and it saw drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. take on guitar duties.
We’d been told The Killers shows are a magical sight to witness and be a part of and loved experiencing it ourselves. From Runaways where the crowd (and a cardboard cut-out of the queen) moved like their life depended on it to All These Things That I’ve Done where 60,000 people came together as one in unison.
Since they started coming to London in 2003, The Killers have continued to amaze crowds as one of the strongest and best live outfits out there. Imploding The Mirage tour contained impeccable thought-out moments from the dancing background visuals for Human to the electrifying firework show which lit up the surrounding sky during Mr Brightside.
With the night drawing to a close fan favourite Spaceman and song of a generation Mr Brightside rounded off the faultless night. The biggest sing-along we’ve witnessed in years took hold and could probably be heard on the other side of London! Yes, the crowd may have lacked energy during the ‘lesser known’ tracks but not once did it faulter onstage. Flowers had said, “everything has been leading up to tonight” and it truly felt like this, as every single ounce of energy and passion was thrown into The Killers set, as the crowd left chanting Mr Brightside it was truly worth the wait. 8/10
Written By: Nicola Craig