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.