The centre pit filled up at about 8:30 PM as the Montreal band, Stars, performed a handful of songs as the opening act. As they left the stage, the crew came on to transition from the opening act to the main band. There was a brief cheer from the pit as a crew member lifted up a sheet, revealing a lightning bolt prop. And a short while after 9, the show started.
The Las Vegas-based rock band The Killers were in top form as the four band members (Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer, and Ronnie Vannucci Jr.) rocked out to their heart’s content amidst the screaming of twentysomething girls. Opening the act was the classic “Mr. Brightside” from their debut album Hot Fuss (2004), prompting a huge sing along by the audience, followed by an energetic performance of “Spaceman” (Day and Age, 2008) which really got the band going on a nonstop electric performance that lasted about two hours.
Songs in the concert (about eighteen, including the encore) were evenly distributed between the four major studio albums, Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town, Day and Age, and Battle Born, as well as the compilation album that included two new songs, Direct Hits. Curiously, the album featuring a compilation of B-sides, Sawdust, of which “Tranquilize” (featuring the late Lou Reed) was one of two singles. Flowers belted out songs such as “Miss Atomic Bomb” (from Battle Born, 2013) and “When You Were Young” (Sam’s Town, 2006) to much acclaim and led the audience in a lively sing along during the songs “Human” (from Day and Age), “From Here On Out” (Battle Born), and, of course, the finale song, “All These Things That I’ve Done” (Hot Fuss), which includes the often-parodied line “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” (make of it what you will). They also performed a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”.
Two special moments in the concert were during a song and during a small break between songs. The time the band played their single from Day and Age, “A Dustland Fairytale”. The crowd suddenly took out their lighters (or, failing that, their cell phone flashlights) and started to sway back and forth to the music. As the opening bars of the song played out, the audience seemed to quiet down for a moment — then, as the music picked up, the audience went back to their energetic bouncing and singing. The second moment appeared between songs, where Keuning (gutar), Stoermer (base), and Vannucci (drums) each improvised a tune on their respective instruments that really showed their talent.
The setting was minimal: no expensive pyrotechnics or screens that showed a close up of the singers; rather, there were a blast of well-timed lighting and smoke effects, which gave the concert a low-key atmosphere and showcased of the band itself. It was a powerhouse show that rocked Montreal for the night. Tell your friends.
The Killers and Stars played the Bell Centre on July 10.