My friend and I bought tickets to see The Killers at Capital One Arena almost a year ago. I remember at the time still naively talking about surely, surely that COVID would be less rampant by now but also saying that if it was I might have just given up by then. One of those things is sort of true. Despite the way everyone else is acting, COVID is still running wild. I’m still being pretty cautious about it, but was apparently correct that I did finally decide to take a chance and make this my first real indoor concert with an N95 firmly planted on my face the entire time. (Technically my first indoor concert as Allison Russell at the Barns at Wolf Trap back in February, but that was 400 people seated, masks and vaccination required, and lengthy info on the venue website about the upgrades to their ventilation so I hardly feel like it counts.) There were more people in the crowd wearing masks than I anticipated, but I’d still estimate only about 10% of people were.
I really liked our seats and would definitely try and snag seats in that section for another concert at Capital One Arena. We were pretty far down in our section, so it almost felt like we were on the floor, but with actual seats and elevated so we could actually see over people. Also, I liked that I was sitting at the end of my row next to a railing overlooking the entrance to the concourse below where I got to watch the arena staff take out all the people on the floor who couldn’t handle themselves. Pace yourselves people and don’t guzzle down the giant cup of beer because then you’re just going to wind up getting wheeled out of the crowd just as the main act is taking the stage. There were multiple people that went down within the first two songs. Then there was a long stretch until the end when some guy was getting kicked out and fighting with the cops and his girlfriend was trying to get him to calm down and not punch the cop, so then he shoved her and it did not end well for him. Amazingly though my concert karma was good for a change and I did not have anyone around me being terrible. In fact even though the show was sold out the seats to the right of stayed empty as did the seats in front of us though once people were standing during The Killers set that space kind of filled in as people spread out.
There was never any indication anywhere that there was an opening act for this concert. I made a concerted effort to try and find out if there was one and who it was because I thought it was odd that there wasn’t. The info wasn’t anywhere. Not on the tickets, the Capital One Arena or Ticketmaster event listings, or The Killers’ website. So I was like maybe there really isn’t. Then some band that was decidedly not The Killers took the stage, so I was like I guess there is one. I just have no idea who it is. Two songs into the set the singer introduced himself and the three other people on stage all by their first names. I was like well this doesn’t help. Then he finally started playing some well known Smiths songs at the end of the set and I figured out that it was Johnny Marr. I was never super into the Smiths. I was always more of a Cure girl. If I know anything that Johnny Marr has done since the Smiths broke up I don’t really know that I do. Morrissey was the one who seemed to have a bigger career after they split. I was happy to get to hear “How Soon is Now?” live, which is a song I have always loved, and I’m happy to have done it without purposefully giving Morrissey any of money, though since he co-wrote he’s probably getting some tiny fraction of a cent from that performance.
I feel like I have a very interesting relationship with The Killers. I never considered myself a fan of The Killers even though I enjoyed their singles here and there. I really do not like the song “Mr. Brightside” and since that was their first big hit, for a long time I just wrote them off and thought I didn’t like them. Eventually I realized how many other songs of theirs I did like without even realizing that I knew them. Like I never actively chose to listen to a Killers album until Imploding the Mirage and Pressure Machine, which are departures from their earlier stuff, especially Pressure Machine which was one of my favorite albums of last year.
Realistically they should be touring that album, but it they are an arena rock band playing an arena and that album is decidedly not an arena rock album. I had looked ahead at some of the most recent set lists to figure out what we were going to hear. It was mostly the same set of their biggest hits with a couple of different songs from Pressure Machine rotating through. I was happy we got “Runaway Horses” in our set, though I wish the second song would have been something other than “Cody” because that one is not my favorite. Somehow the Anthem got them to play their 5 year anniversary show tomorrow night, so I’m going to be curious if they mix up the set list a lot more for that and do break out more of Pressure Machine, because that is a venue where they could do that.
As I said I have never really listened to any of The Killers older albums other than the singles that I heard on the radio and being out in the world, so I was a little surprised that there were only a couple of songs I didn’t know. I guess their hits really accumulated, and they bring the people what they want. As I said they pretty much played their singles with a couple of other songs thrown in. They brought Johnny Marr back out during the encore and covered the Smiths song, “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby”. They of course finished the night off with “Mr. Brightside”, which I still don’t like but wasn’t surprised to hear as the final song of the show.
I’m usually not big on arena shows because I feel like it often becomes more about the spectacle of whatever they’ve done to keep the people in the rafters entertained rather than the music and the actual performance by the band. I did not feel that way with this show at all. Brandon Flowers is a consummate performer. There was plenty of the spectacle stuff with large video screens, laser lighting and other light show stuff, and three different rounds of confetti cannons that every time they set one off I said to my friend the arena staff that has to clean that up really hates you right now. However, I in no way felt like the show was relying on that. I felt like Brandon could have kept the crowd just as energized without any of that stuff. In fact there were some songs that didn’t really have much in the way of theatrical staging going on, so he proved my point. They are so very much an arena rock band I was trying to actually imagine them playing in small clubs like they must have done early in their career, and I have a hard time doing it because they are meant to be seen in an arena. I rarely if ever say that. I very much enjoyed watching them perform and the experience of dancing and singing along with the crowd. Now let’s hope I managed to not get COVID while I was doing it.