Killing Joke

There’s an almighty hoo ha (do hoo has come in any other size?) in the media over the Killers’ “afterthought” gig at the Academy on August 20th – a whole night before they play Mawwrleee Pawwrrk.  Apart from the happy fact that it’s way cheaper to see them indoors, in comfort, with a proper bar and everything, The Killers can, to sound a warning, be monumentally appalling live.  Like with many bands (but most especially Arcade Fire), audiences turn up, in droves, to see The Killers entirely expecting to be entertained and, as a result, don’t force the band to entertain them – and are almost never disappointed.  Make them entertain you, people! I appreciate that shelling out €70 is a big deal, so by all means get excited about the prospect of seeing The Killers – just don’t cheer them for no reason and drown out Brandon’s squawk purely because you can, let him prove he does actually have a note in his head.

During a large bout of recycling, I happened across the following review of their Olympia gig in 2004, the year Hot Fuss was released, written by me for SoundsXP.  I am every bit the infuriated, knee-jerk punter, particularly about some of the audience’s behaviour – which is something I still feel very strongly about, as anyone who accompanies me to gigs on a regular basis will confirm.  As for the band – suffice it to say, I have never been able to listen to Hot Fuss with the same enjoyment since:

THE KILLERS, Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 11th November 2004

I will admit to having been in a state of squealing girly excitement at the prospect of seeing The Killers. With thrilling, energetic chart pop music in terminal decline, the Las Vegas quartet have effortlessly become the sophisticated indie darlings du jour. With their infectious pop choruses, sharp attire, all-round, cool, pin-up boy posturing, and even Saint Morrissey’s patronage, this couldn’t fail to be the coolest, classiest night out of the year.

Imagine, then, my not unnatural surprise when it turns out to be anything but. Tonight the band, together with the sound and lighting engineers, seem to have decided not to bother trying. Opening with the normally pyrotechnic Jenny Was A Friend of Mine seems like a good move, but someone has gone and drenched the squib.  It seems too slow for starters, Brandon Flowers displays little or no enthusiasm as he skulks around the stage, and then the song ends with a puerile, Animal-from-the Muppets, rock thrash.  Come on guys, that’s for sweaty encores and even sweatier pub rock bands, not the “new Duran Duran”.  The Hot Fuss album is trotted out in a clinical, rambling fashion, with neither dancing nor witticism from the front man. Whatever fashionable cool the band has achieved in their photo shoots, there’s little evidence of it in the flesh; in my stupefaction, I realise that they’re is actually made up of Neil Sedaka (drums), Generic Scruffy Student (bass), Uncle Peter from Reeves & Mortimer (guitar) and Craig Doyle (vocals). A motley assembly at best, and certainly not the stuff of pin-ups.

When the band’s indifference to me finally becomes mutual, my irritation turns to the frighteningly energetic and youthful audience. Of course, they’re absolutely lapping it up, they’ve never seen anything so exciting; after all, the last live show they attended was probably Barney On Ice. The girlies squeal their hormonal hearts out in the way that they do, while the lads… OK, answer me this, please. Is it nature or nurture that makes young men at gigs bounce on one foot and repeatedly point at the singer? What’s the point of the point, boys? Is it a case of, “that’s where the singing’s coming from, everyone! There it is – look!”?

It’s just possible this was merely an off night for The Killers. I do hope so, I’ve loved the album since I first heard it; but if I hadn’t been familiar with it first, then, based on this performance, I would seriously wonder what all the Hot Fuss was about.

2 thoughts on “Killing Joke

  1. Have seen the Killers twice. Crap live both times. Flowers CANNOT SING. I recommend you dig out some of the old Killers demos from the Interweb. Hilarious stuff.

    Still, I will be trying to get tickets for the Academy gig, simply because they still do have a few great songs, and I always like giving bands multiple chances (case in point: MGMTs trio of quite rubbish performances I’ve devoted my time to so far this summer.)

  2. Una – I must admit, I am sorely tempted by the Academy gig, given the band’s unfeasibly giant status and the comparative size of the venue; it’s a wee bit like REM playing the Olympia, only without the great back catalogue and the renewed optimism for the future. I will have a root for the demos, thank you.

    As for MGMT – you’re a better (and more patient) woman than I am.

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