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The Killers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 8/1/13

Brandon Flowers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 2013
Brandon Flowers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 2013
All photos courtesy of the Killers

The Killers
With the Virgins
Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul
Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Killers started out their North American tour last night at Roy Wilkins with a powerful entry. Just returning from a long tour in Europe, the Killers did not hide their excitement to be playing a show in their home country again. With post-punkers the Virgins opening the show, the night featured bright guitars, power hits, and a diverse setlist filled mostly with fan favorites.

Opening their set with their most famous hit, "Mr. Brightside," was a risky move for the Killers. The house lights were still on, and many audience members were overheard wondering if this was indeed the actual start of the show. However, frontman Brandon Flowers definitely knew what he was doing as he conducted the audience to immediately break out in song, emitting the same energy as he would during a final encore.

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The second song of the set was the Day & Age single "Spaceman." Playing off of the ecstatic but confused crowd, Flowers (with the help of some seriously crafted lighting design) sent the audience members right into space. If there's one thing Flowers has mastered, it's taking control of the entire auditorium he's performing in. Throughout the entire hour-and-45-minute set, he never fell short of sustaining solid energy to the crowd. Switching between playing the keyboard behind a lightning bolt-shaped podium and bouncing around the stage, Flowers preached to his crowd of fans, who knew every lyric, sometimes before he could even finish them himself.

The Killers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 8/1/13
The Killers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 8/1/13

The 19-song set was well balanced from all four of their albums. Dramatically changing their setlist for their North American audience, the band played some hits a bit too early, but they definitely know the art of a buildup. After another stadium rock hit, "Smile Like You Mean It," the guitar riffs slowly faded into non-existence, allowing drummer Ronnie Vannucci to have his moment of glory, powerfully pumping his drumstick in the air as he glowed under a single spotlight.

They then dove into a quick acoustic tease of sleeper hit "Human," which mostly consisted of the audience singing the lyrics by heart, this time with Flowers as the backing vocals, before jumping into their 2007 cover of Joy Division's "Shawdowplay." Definitely one of the most unknown songs of the set, it allowed for some crowd-performer interaction. It caused the cover to lose most of its gritty post-punk charm, but most folks didn't seem to know it was a cover anyway.

In the midst of the song "Miss Atomic Bomb" off of their new album, Battle Born, the fans rediscovered their energy as they were blasted with atomic-bomb-shaped clouds of smoke rising behind the band as a soft, familiar guitar gift of "Mr. Brightside" gradually became audible. Apparently the sequel to their number-one hit, "Miss Atomic Bomb" lacks the love-longing anthem that makes "Mr. Brightside" so timeless. However, audience members didn't have to wait long before the song faded into the full instrumental version of "Human," as the entire main floor burst into fits of jumping and dancing.
 
Flowers then tested the audience's patience again with a lengthy intro to the Hot Fuss hit "Somebody Told Me," which was well worth it as lead guitarist Dave Keuning was finally fully spotlighted, killing the riffs with Flowers's power anthem-infused lyrics. Although Flowers definitely owned the stage, he didn't converse much with the audience. When he did, he would only commemorate the other band members and give them the spotlight they truly deserve.

The Killers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 8/1/13
The Killers at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 8/1/13

The highlight of the night was definitely the cover of Prince's "Purple Rain." Mashed with "A Dustland Fairytale" off of Day & Age, it took most by surprise. However, Keuning and Flowers's intimate acoustic collaboration made for a seriously gritty version of the Minnesota anthem and was over much too soon.

Flowers used everything he (and the lightening design team) had to go out with a bang, and multiple ones with that. As their last song, "All the Things I've Done," ended, Flowers channeled his inner Gandalf by using his mic stand as staff, conjuring multiple blasts of lightning-bolt confetti and bursts of sparklers, which lasted throughout their entire finale, which was not surprisingly highlighted by "When You Were Young."

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: "When You Were Young" is one of my favorite songs of all time, although I honestly haven't listened to much of their music since Sam's Town.

The Crowd: Surprisingly a wide range of ages, mostly hailing from suburbia.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Is that logo from the new album that I know nothing about?"

Random Notebook Dump: Drummer Ronnie Vannucci apparently messed up toward the end of "Runaway," after a confession from Flowers, but no one noticed.

Setlist:
Mr. Brightside
Spaceman
The Way It Is
Smile Like You Mean It
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Shadowplay (cover, Joy Division)
Miss Atomic Bomb
Human
Somebody Told Me
Reasons
From Here On Out
A Dustland Fairytale
Purple Rain (cover)
Read My Mind
Runaways
All These Things I've Done

ENCORE

Jenny Was a Friend
When You Were Young
Battle Born

See Also:
Rep. Keith Ellison covers Woody Guthrie to toast Marriage Equality in Minnesota
Top 10 must-see Minnesota music videos this week
Prince named #2 greatest live act by Rolling Stone


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