I have two vivid memories of The Killers. The first was when I was twelve years old, and my brother and I were out shopping with mum during the school holidays. We both decided we wanted to buy a CD. We settled on Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams and The Killers’ Hot Fuss. Me, being the cheap pre-teen, bought The Killers’ Hot Fuss, while my brother agreed to buy Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams, which was a whole $5 more expensive. I’ll tell you what though; I listened to Hot Fuss from front to back on my Philips CD player for the next few months every night. To this day, “All These Things That I’ve Done” is still one of my favourite songs.
The second story comes from Big Day Out 2013. It was bullshit hot and I was torn between seeing either Alabama Shakes’ set, or the last half hour of The Killers’ set. I sided with Alabama Shakes, justifying my decision by saying ‘I just want a little “Mr Brightside” action; they’ll close with it for sure.’ You’ve probably guessed that they indeed did not close with Mr Brightside, instead opening with it, and I was left waiting five long years to hear that opening riff in the flesh.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, and I was lucky enough to get to see them in a club setting, as part of the new music initiative fronted by American Express, the aptly titled American Express Music Backers Program. Playing Selina’s in Coogee Bay Hotel, American Express hosted myself, 400 members of the public and a heap of media to a blistering, hit laden, hour–long set from the Las Vegan four piece.
Opening up the night was Australian Alex Cameron. Ably aided by his ‘business partner’ Roy Molloy, the Sydneysider’s 20 minute set was short, sweet and totally justified why Brandon Flowers is such a huge fan of Cameron’s music.
Coming on stage just before 10pm, the headliners went about delivering an hour long set of bangers, wall-to-wall hits and absolutely massive sing-a-longs.
Opening up with the philosophical masterpiece “Human”, you just knew what was to follow would be bloody near impossible to top. Moving straight into “Spaceman”, I was quickly thrown back to being twelve, when they burst into breakout single “Somebody Told Me.” It might not have aged as well as “Mr Brightside”, but it still ranks up there with one of the catchiest and singable choruses of modern music.
One thing you notice about front man Brandon Flowers is his movement on stage. Not once did he stop, as the sweat enveloped his shirt and what I’m going to assume was an unnecessarily expensive three-piece suit. Asking the crowd, ‘Who’s the man?’, you’d understandably assume it is Flowers. Moving into the massive steeze of “The Man”, you realised The Killers have been at the top of the game for a justifiably long time.
Noting that they were going to go a little Australiana with a cover of a little band that once played Selina’s too, they smashed the INXS classic “Don’t Change”. From the recognisable synth, to the killer chorus (pun absolutely intended), you’d be forgiven for thinking it could have been an original.
Slowing it down with “Read My Mind”, the vocal strength of Flowers came to the forefront, as the set entered its closing stages. With what proved to be the biggest moment of the night, the vocals were handed to the crowd as the bridge of “All These Things I’ve Done” handed the set its crowning moment. Going into the set all I wanted to hear was “Mr Brightside”. Leaving it, I was more than glad I got to witness the bridge of “All These Things I’ve Done” one more time.
I remember reading that the band doubted they’d ever be able to top the heights of “Mr Brightside”. And then they went and released “When You Were Young”. It is, to this day, probably a better, more euphoric song than “Mr Brightside”. Which, honestly, is pretty hard to do.
You’ll never guess what they closed on. Going in unannounced, the opening riff of “Mr Brightside” melted the ears of everyone on the floor, as the drums came into their own, the vocals lifted, and that synth left you frothing for more.
For a set that only lasted less than an hour, it had everything you could have hoped for in a rock show. It was glamorous, it was dirty, it was sweet and sweaty. It was clean cut, but simultaneously rough around the edges. For twelve year old me, it was prophetic and outrageously fulfilling. And more than justified me being an absolute scab and only wanting to spend $15 on an album.
The writer attended this show on May 9th.
To learn more about the American Express Music Backers campaign, head here.
Photos: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images for American Express.