Concert Review: The Killers at Firefly Music Festival in Dover
The crowds flooded in for day two of Dover’s Firefly Music Festival. Not since NASCAR invaded in the spring has the capital of Delaware seen its town overrun by fanatics. The promise of rain couldn’t keep the masses away. Luckily, downpour never materialized, though the lurking cloud cover considerably cut through the heat that has been baking all things in Delaware for weeks.
Saturday featured a packed musical offering including performances from Cake, Michael Franti & Spearhead, as well as late festival addition Modest Mouse. Headlining the evening was none other than Las Vegas rockers, The Killers. They had lined up a mini-theatre tour to lead up to Firefly, playing small capacity venues like The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC and The National in Richmond, VA. They are playing shows in anticipation of their coming release Battle Born that will hit record shelves on September 18. This studio release marks the band’s first album in four years.
Since the band’s inception, they’ve always sounded like they were dying to be British rockers from another age. They are poured from the same mold as Joy Division and Depeche Mode with their heavy synth-based sound. Much to their delight, they actually found fame easier in the UK than in the states when they initially hit the scene with Hot Fuss. That was eight years ago, and Hot Fuss still remains the band’s pinnacle after a solid follow-up Sam’s Town (2006) and the dead-on-arrival Day & Age (2008). The real question now is how can this band sustain the fame they found so early in their career?
The Firefly audience filtered into the main stage fresh from grooving on Passion Pit and watching perhaps the performance of the weekend at Lupe Fiasco. In other words, the meteoric rising talent set the bar pretty high for The Killers. The band hit the stage to massive applause and Brandon Flowers walked to stage center to man the keyboards and microphone. He was positioned behind a goofy lightning bolt podium of sorts, flanked by a massive light display that sprayed a rainbow of colors out into the sea of hands.
The boys know where their bread is buttered, and wasted no time resurrecting their Hot Fuss staples starting off the evening with “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It.” The sweaty audience was sufficiently charged to hear some of their favorite tracks trotted out so early in the evening. The guys had good energy and flair onstage.
The Killers did bring out a few new tracks from the upcoming album, “Runaways” and “From Here on Out.” These proved to be decent efforts, but certainly didn’t harken back to their barn burners from Hot Fuss. At first glance, we may be getting another Day & Age-type album.
The set list leaned heavily on the band’s greatest hits, and thus Hot Fuss, though they did spread the wealth over their almost decade of releases. They even paid homage to their heroes, tapping into Joy Division’s “Shadowplay.” The audience didn’t seem to mind the brief departure of all things Killers.
In all, the Killers set at Firefly can be summed up in one word, uninspired. Technically speaking, the show was good. There were no sound problems. They popped the cork on the fireworks at the appropriate times. They showered the crowd with confetti when they played their final song of the main set. Maybe I was a bit jaded after just watching Lupe Fiasco set fire to the stage minutes before, but it just felt like The Killers were going through the motions at times. Where is the energy? Where is the charisma?
The last time I saw them live was at The 40 Watt in Athens, GA in 2007. Granted, this was a special night at a tiny venue for a group of guys who were selling out arenas at the time, but I could feel their energy and desire to serve up the best music that they could deliver. I just didn’t feel that same drive from their set at Firefly. The band has been on a hiatus of sorts for the last few years, so perhaps they are still finding their groove. Hopefully they’ll recapture that secret formula before they hit the road in full supporting capacity for Battle Born.
The Killers Firefly Setlist
1. Somebody Told Me
2. Smile Like You Mean It
4. This is Your Life
6. From Here on Out
7. For Reasons Unknown
8. Bling (Confessions of a King)
9. Shadowplay (Joy Division Cover)
11. A Dustland Fairytale
12. Read My Mind
13. Mr Brightside
14. All These Things That I’ve Done
15. When You Were Young
16. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine