Posts Tagged ‘concert

07
Dec
09

Gig review: The Killers

South African audiences suck. We have absolutely no idea how to rock out and you can’t really blame us. Overseas there are hundreds of excellent bands playing every weekend and in places like London they are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to concerts and artists.

Not so all the way down in darkest Africa. Down here we get international acts maybe three times a year if we’re lucky, which is bad because what ends up happening is everyone buys tickets to go see whichever band has decided to grace us with their presence not because they are die hard fans of that band, but just because a big international artist has actually come down here to play.

What ends up happening is you get masses of people paying ridiculous amounts of money to go and watch bands that they don’t know very well.

In the case of The Killers concert that happened in Joburg on Friday night, I’m willing to bet that the majority of the people who went to watch them knew four or five of their songs, mainly the ones that play on 5FM and that was about it.

 

 

They also have no clue how to chill out and enjoy the vibe of a big concert. We arrived about 40 mins before The Killers went on stage, which was just enough time to get some drinks and start missioning through the crowds to find a good spot.

Predictably as we got closer to the centre, the crowds became more and more dense until eventually we came to a dead stop in a group of people who started shitting us out in a really bitchy, horrible way for having the audacity to stand amongst them.

People, this is a fucking rock concert, you cannot reserve a place to stand, what the fuck?!

Eventually we managed to squeeze past the douchebags and find a place to stand and moments later the lights dimmed down, a low, long, grumbling note sounded over the massive speaker system and in an explosion of lights, The Killers launched into their first song, ‘Joyride’.

A bit of a weak song to start with some might argue, but it was a nice and gentle way to ease us all into things and I think it worked.

The exact tracklist they played after that is a little blurry in my mind, but I know ‘Bones’ was in there somewhere in the beginning and that they rocked out for the first three tracks and then played two totally obscure tracks after that and the energy in the crowd dropped instantly.

 

 

To the band’s credit, they played every classic Killers’ track they’ve ever written. ‘For Reasons Unknown’, ‘Spaceman’, ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘Human’, and ‘Mr Brightside’ were all belted out passionately and executed with such precision, you’d swear you were listening to the CD…

But rest assured, this wasn’t Milli Vanilli we were watching, as perfectly as the band played, I picked up a couple of tiny slip-ups here and there – proof that it wasn’t just a backing track we were listening to.

What quickly became apparent watching them live though is that Brandon Flowers (the lead vocalist and frontman of the band) IS The Killers. Take that man out of the band and all you’ve got is a group of dudes who look like ageing session musicians, the kind of people you’d expect to see on stage playing U2 covers at The Rustic Theatre on a Sunday afternoon.

Mark my words, the next step for ol’ Flowers will be a solo career. He’ll drop the rest of the band, strike out on his own and make an album that, surprise, surprise, sounds exactly like The Killers.

You heard it here first ;)

There were a couple of little touches that I really liked. One of them was when they killed all the lights in The Dome and Flowers and the guitarist Dave Keuning stepped under a single spotlight and sang ‘Falling In Love With You’ (the Elvis track).

 

 

I also liked the bit when Flowers sat down at the end of ‘Spaceman’ and played the last chorous on the piano, just him on his lonesome. The man can sing, that’s for damn sure.

The only song I think they butchered completely was ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, which was really sad, because like I said in my previous post, that song means a lot to me. They opted for an acoustic guitar and piano instead of the electric and synthesized kind and played the song half a click slower than they do on the album.

The result is that it sounded more like a funeral dirge than The Killers’ track we’ve all come to know and love.

Other than that, it was a solid concert, and yes, I feel like I got my money’s worth. As for the rest of the crowd, who knows what they thought of it all. A lot of my friends who went to the concert were surprised by how unenergetic the crowd was, but as I mentioned above, this is fairly typical of South African audiences.

There were people standing next to us that didn’t so much as nod their heads for the entire concert. They just stood there and watched in a kind of silent, catatonic daze.

Nice one guys. No wonder international bands avoid us like the plague.

 

 

However, the real question here is has my faith in the band been restored? After watching them play live are they back in my top ten list? Well, the answer to that question would be ‘no’.

More than anything, I feel a sense of closure. I’ve bought all their albums, listened to nearly everything they’ve ever recorded and seen them play live.

I’m happy to say adios to The Killers. In five year’s time I’ll probably dig out some of my personal favourites again and play them on a lazy afternoon, but the danger of listening to any band too much is that their music loses it’s meaning for you and thanks to the masses of radio play this band has gotten, that’s exactly what’s happened to them.

They killed The Killers. Those music execs out there in dreamland, they killed The Killers.

Those bastards.

-ST

04
Dec
09

Who Cares About The Killers?

They were one of those bands that took awhile to grow on me, I mean, I’d heard ‘Mr Brightside’ playing on the radio for a couple of months, but didn’t really take to the song at all and as such, it just formed part of the background noise of my life during my chaotic student years while I was drinking my body weight daily and making insidious efforts to avoid doing any actual work.

 

 

My first clear memory of them is from 2004, I was in the gym (of all places) and ‘Somebody Told Me’ started pounding its way over the speakers right into my brain. Before the song was through, I was hooked and a few weeks later got my dirty paws on the album.

Even then I didn’t take it too seriously until one night, a full year later, I was suffering from the worst kind of heartache you can imagine and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ drifted through the empty corridors of the mansion of a digs we used to live in.

It is, to this day, one of my favourite Killers songs. Something about that song resonates deeply in my bones and I think always will. It’s like the feeling you get when you go back to the house you grew up in, or the place you got your first kiss.

‘And someone will drive her around, down the same streets that I did, on the same streets that I did…’

Of course after that it was only a matter of time before I fell for the other gems Hot Fuss had to offer. I’ve belted out the lyrics of ‘All These Things I’ve Done’ at drunken parties, in drunken bars, in drunken clubs, and by myself, when I’m drunk, more times than I think I could ever count… or remember.

 

 

And yet When Sam’s Town was released in 2006, I was completely meh about the album. A buddy got it for his birthday a week after ‘When You Were Young’ started playing over the radio and we played the album on infinite repeat that weekend at his party and I can’t say it did much for me.

I remember there being some heartfelt tracks that grabbed my attention that night, in retrospect one of them was probably ‘Read My Mind’, but other than that I wasn’t really blown away by the album at all.

A year later though, ‘Exitlude’ became the story of my life. I fell in love hard and fast over two weekends with a woman who would become the love of my life but who, at the time, was only over for a short holiday because she was living in London.

When she went back to London after those ten days we spent together, I kept finding her things around my flat, a misplaced earring here, a fiery, red-golden hair there, her pyjama top mixed up in a pile of my clothes and a CD, Sam’s Town, underneath the passenger seat in my car.

‘We hope you enjoyed your stay, it’s good to have you with us, even if it’s just for a day. We hope you enjoyed your stay, outside the sun is shining, seems like heaven ain’t far away…’

 

 

Needless to say, that album fast became a favourite of mine, but it wasn’t until I heard Sawdust, the B-Sides album that came out later that year that I finally conceded that yes, The Killers were a fucking cool band.

I’ve always said judge a band not by their studio albums or radio singles, judge them rather by their live shows and their B-Sides, and Sawdust was packed full of great B-Sides.

The album was by far the edgiest release they had put out to date and as a result, not many people liked it, but personally, I was really impressed with what I was hearing, especially one of the bonus tracks, the alternate version of ‘Sam’s Town’ which is played almost exclusively on the piano.

‘I’ve got this energy beneath my feet,’ Flowers sang, ‘Like something underground’s gonna come up and carry me. I’ve got this sentimental heart that beats, but I don’t really mind that it’s starting to get to me…’

I don’t really mind that it’s starting to get to me. I sang that line a million times that year. I don’t really mind that it’s starting to get to me, because the irony implicit in that line spoke to me, it meant something to me and made me feel a certain way every time I heard it and like all art, the really good stuff, I guess on some level it made me feel less alone.

And then came Day and Age, the band’s fourth album and almost overnight, all the years of respect I’d slowly amassed for The Killers curled up into a little ball in the corner and died.

 

 

What the fuck was that? Seriously, what the fuck was that?! Because to me it sounded like it was rushed, it sounded like the band had gotten lazy and / or had sold out completely.

If you think ‘Human’ is a good track, I have some really bad news for you. You are retarded. ‘Are we human or are we dancer?’ Isn’t there an ‘S’ missing from the end of that last word? And besides that fact, isn’t that song just about the most irritating dance / pop / rock track ever to be recorded?

There is no substance to Day and Age whatsoever and to my knowledge, only two singles were released off the album, and like a fat man at a house party who farts loudly during those precious few moments between the previous song and the next one, the band seemed to slink quietly out of the room to go and reflect on what they’d done.

Day and Age made me realise that Brandon Flowers has a whiney voice. It made me realise that there are tracks off their previous albums that are really bad. I’d never listened to any of their stuff from the perspective of a hater, but Day and Age changed that, and once I started down that road I found there are a buttload of tracks off their albums that are puke-worthy.

The best song on Day and Age was the bonus track ‘A Crippling Blow’ which, ironically, I don’t think was included on the original CD and was only available if you downloaded the album off iTunes.

And so now here we sit, a year since that abortion of an album was released and I’m not sure anyone cares about this band anymore.

You can tell when a band has passed the apex of their fame when they come to South Africa on tour. It’s almost sad when I find out about bands coming to play here because the first thing I think is, ‘Ahhh jeez, do they suck that much now? Damn, I thought they were doing really well…’

And yeah, I bought tickets to go and see The Killers tonight, but am I excited about the concert? Not really. And so I find myself asking the question, Who cares about The Killers? Are they still the band they were a few years ago in everyone’s eyes?

Call me a cynical fucker, but I don’t think so. I guess tonight will be the test of that, but I really hope for the band’s sake and mine, they only play three tracks off Day and Age at the very most and for the rest of the concert we can pretend that it’s still 2006 and that this is a band we actually all still give a shit about.

-ST




A Word From The Kind Folks At Nokia

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