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It seems like days ago that a little band from Nevada stormed onto the radio rock scene with Hot Fuss; out of nowhere, The Killers were invading the airwaves with hook after hook. Eight years, six million records sold, and countless catchy choruses later, the Killers are selling out arenas. To be fair, though, this has never really been a “little” band. Everything Brandon Flowers & Co. do, they do it foot-stomping, fist-pumping big, and last night’s show at Agganis Arena showed why that pays off. The Killers are making a bid for the title of arena rock gods, a la Dire Straits and U2, and they’re going to win that title with ease.
Flowers began the show with “A Matter of TIme,” a driving standout from their most recent release Battle Born, but the energy really kicked in with the third track, “Smile Like You Mean It.” Of their many monster hits, this is one of the most anthemic and instantly memorable, especially the dazed guitar solo. From there, they launched into a bouncy, joyous “Spaceman,” and with few exceptions, the energy stayed sky-high for the remainder of the set.
The Killers are the sort of unabashed, melodramatic rockers that succeed in a transcendent way when they do succeed, but they also veer toward dangerous excess. They asked the audience to take out their cellphones during “Here With Me,” and while the lights made a pretty visual, the ballad itself didn’t carry the weight of Flowers’ ambitions. “A Dustland Fairytale,” on the other hand, began heavy and exploded into something soaring and beautiful, the heir to Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet,” which, incidentally, they covered on compilation album Sawdust.
Flowers canceled the two proceeding shows due to laryngitis, but his voice sounded almost completely recovered as he belted out hit after hit. From the pounding modern classic “Mr. Brightside” to the latest single “Runaways,” the crowd danced along. These are instant classics, with choruses that are simple and memorable without being simplistic. As the Killers led singalong after singalong, with fireworks and sparks and confetti decorating the stage behind them, it felt like a big moment for any rock fan in the audience. Sure, sometimes they could tone down the drama, but then they wouldn’t be the Killers we know and love without it.