September 03, 2009

Concert Review: The Killers

The Killers with Wolfmother
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Jones Beach Amphitheater
Wantagh, New York

Tuesday night, a friend and I took a mini-adventure out onto Long Island to see what might be my real favorite band right now, The Killers. This was a sold-out show, and we scrounged a few tickets up the day of the show on stubhub.

First, the venue: I had heard good things about concerts at Jones Beach, which is a state park about 45min outside NYC by train. But I think I may have found my new favorite concert venue. First, the parking lot tailgates are shamelessly un-patrolled, and it made me wish we had driven so we could drag out the cooler and join in the fun. Secondly, there isn't a bad seat in the house. The house only houses around 14,000 people, so while you might get high up, you never feel terribly far away from the action. The seating is built in a wedge shape; the stage faces north and the audience faces south, giving the concertgoers a view of the water behind the stage, and if you're lucky, a beautiful sunset to the right of the stage. It's perfect for summer.

Anyway - on to the music. The Killers rocked this place. I've never seen a band exude so much energy without moving very much themselves; the musicians didn't have to run and jump around the stage to get the audience going. These boys from Vegas also know how to put on a show. Just because they were on the beach didn't mean they were going to forsake confetti, showers of sparks, or pyrotechnics on stage. They didn't really need the effects, but when you take a fast-paced chorus, thumping drums, driving piano chords and a melody you want to sing along with, and THEN add sparks raining down on the stage for the remainder of the song... yeah, that's a little bit of magic.

I was really happy with the playlist the band chose. I wish I noted it, and haven't been able to find it online, but it included just about every radio-worthy hit, plus a power ballad or two, and a few tunes from their latest CD, Day and Age. Some of my favorites that they played are....
  • Can You Read My Mind?
  • Human
  • Mr. Brightside
  • Losing Touch
  • Jenny
  • Smile Like You Mean It
  • Somebody Told Me
  • All These Things I've Done
  • Bones
  • When You Were Young (encore)

The Killers also have a great sense of rhythm. Not the kind of rhythm you play, but rhythm for the concert. A playlist can get boring quickly if there isn't the right kind of variety and rhythm. They opened with an energetic song (Human), cranked along for a bit to get the crowd going, then we had bopped around enough, they threw in an unexpected acoustic treatment of Smile Like You Mean It, with violin and piano (not synth). They built us back up again with All These Things I've Done (get that audience fist-pumping... "I got soul but I'm not a soldier..."), and closed with an "of course!" encore of When You Were Young, letting the opening dischord ring for a bit, and then setting the crowd loose with its infectious beat and sweeping chorus.

Here's a video of their performance of Mr. Brightside, and you can hear everyone singing along...

Another thing that struck me about this show was the vibe. The audience was one of the most diverse I've seen: college kids, high school kids, wannabe rapper kids, parents with children, baby-boomers, yuppies, overgrown frat boys and everyone in between. This diversity led to a pretty positive vibe, an unexpected cohesion. What brought everyone together was their cheerful devotion to a band that tells stories with lyrics, stories that resonate with people of many ages apparently.

The Killers sing songs of heartbreak, nostalgia, theoretical possibilities, interpersonal pressure and rhetorical questions. They love a running bass beat, sweeping synthesizer chords, and beautiful guitar/vocal counterpoint. Their music had a family of five jumping, nodding and dancing together, wearing smiles and not concerning themselves with what anyone else thought. It was a really special concert, executed nearly flawlessly, in tune and with contagious energy. This concert made me love the Killers even more.

Here is their encore, When You Were Young...

And as a side note, this may sound crazy, but I would love to hear a Killers Unplugged concert. Their songs could be so beautiful with synthesizer reworked to strings, piano, acoustic guitar, maybe even cello... I'll call MTV right now.

- Hayley


Red Lipstick Style said...

I am going to have to check them out. Very cool. I am always looking for something new to listen to on long runs.

Preppy Pearl Girl said...

I LOVE The Killers! That will be a great concert!

Ainsley said...

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Walter Tully said...

Spectacular performance, then. And the venue even got along with The Killers' sense of performance. One of the many impressive things about this band is their sensibility to their playlists in concerts. They just give this alternating moods of energy-driven cheers and settling-down aura. As one says it, that's showmanship!