Monday, May 20, 2013

Concert Review: The Killers, Brooklyn, NY (05/18/2013)

I've always heard that The Killers were enormously influenced by Springsteen, and if you loved Bruce, you'll love The Killers.  I just never believed it.  Until I saw them live...

A little personal history first.  I was late to get into The Killers.  In 2004, when all my friends were raving about this new album, Hot Fuss, I wasn't really into it.  Sure the single from it "Somebody Told Me" was fairly catchy, but I was sure NYC rock radio stations would outplay it that summer, which they did.  When they followed it up with another huge single, "Mr. Brightside", I simply thought "Ok, they are not 1 hit wonders.  But they're not Metallica, so no need to get overexcited about them like some of my friends were."  They weren't Metallica, and they weren't trying to be.  I just didn't understand that at the time.  

Next year, when they released Sam's Town, highlighted by the hit single "When You Were Young", I stopped being so negative and acknowledged that The Killers were for real and deserved a listen.  It was around this time, while reading reviews of Sam's Town, that I started reading about how much you can tell the influence of Bruce in their music.  I went out and bought Sam's Town and Hot Fuss.  And I was underwhelmed...Sure, they were good (not great) albums, but Ijust didn't hear any Bruce influence.  I was actually a little disappointed in myself, thinking I'd bought into the hype around this band.  Their next album, Day and Age, again I liked a lot, but I would still barely even acknowledge that I was a Killers fan.  Then this past September, when I head "Runaways", I realized two things: This was the first time I really, truly loved a Killers song.  And this was the first time I heard a clear Springsteen influence.  When they released the album, Battle Born, and I listened to it in its entirety, I was seriously impressed.  It was a solid album, and I thought to myself, "I really am a fan of this band."

It was with that mindset, that I went and bought tickets to see them for the first time at  this past weekend at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  I went with my buddy Tom.  Tom and I have the exact vice-versa feelings when it comes to Bruce and The Killers.  Tom LOVES The Killers, I'm pretty sure they are his favorite band, and while he definitely likes and respects Bruce, he's not obsessed like I am.  I like and respect The Killers, but they are miles away from my level of Bruce fandom.  However, after seeing them live I absolutely gained a new appreciation for them as their own separate band but also as them being  fans of Springsteen(Ironically enough, it was taking Tom to his first Bruce concert that got really got him into in Springsteen.)  

Yes, the Springsteen influence could be felt right from the start.  When their lead singer, Brandon Flowers, walked out with zero fanfare and played solo piano piece "Enterlude" right into "When You Were Young", with the house lights still on, in that same  "1,2 punch" that it is on Sam's Town, I thought "straight from Bruce's playbook.  Very nice."  When Flowers addressed the crowd, and said "It's Saturday night, and you knew The Killers were in town!  So don't tell me you forgot to bring your dancing shoes!"  as the intro for "From Here On Out"(one of the best songs on the new album), it was "Springsteen 101".  When he got the fans chant along "Woah oh oh oh oh ohhhh" during "Spaceman", it was like hearing Bruce get the crowd into "Badlands".  Flowers also gave the band the same, over the top, but sincerely heartfelt, introductions that Bruce gives the boys and girls from E Street.  Even hearing certain lyrics, just reminded me of Bruce's songwriting style.  For example:

"Should our paths ever decide to cross
You may wonder what the trouble cost
That don't matter now, life goes on
Hallelujah, the troubles' gone"
("From Here On Out", Battle Born)

Tell me that's influenced by a guy who just has Darkness On The Edge Of Town on repeat, and I'll call you a liar!

It's hard to explain without being their live, which is the best endorsement I can give The Killers.  If you're a fan of rock and roll music, you really owe it to yourself to see them live.  We had awful seats, and that's what I was most annoyed about.  I wanted to be down on the lower levels, closer to the stage to really get into those songs.  I know all great lead singers find a way to interact with that crowd but Flowers has a certain "Springsteen-esque" quality that has to be seen.  Speaking of Flowers, he is easily one of the best lead singers I've heard live.  He hit every note, and gave it his all for the entire concert without showing any signs of struggle. 

I've been listening to their four studio albums non-stop since Saturday night, and I feel like such a dummy for never hearing the Springsteen influence before.  Seriously,I don't know how I didn't know songs like "Dustland Fairytale" and "For Reason Unknown" are descended from a band that truly loves Born To Run.  
If you're on this blog, clearly you're a fan of Bruce.  In which case I definitely would say they are worth the money to see live, and if you have the means, spend a little extra for good seats.  You won't be disappointed.

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