The Killers throw a party at the Garden

A review of The Killers at the TD Garden on September 4, 2009

, Staff Writer

The Killers pose an interesting dilemma, one that was on full display Friday night at the TD Garden. Over three albums they have amassed a catalog that is alternately mindblowingly awesome and frustrating. This made for a show with lots of wow but also plenty of blah.

Things got off to an auspicious start as the band took to the stage with the house lights still up and kicked right into “Mr. Brightside”. For four or so minutes they were just a tight band on a big stage, and stripping off the pomp and circumstance that usually accompanies their live show was a ballsy move that resulted in a big payoff.

“Spaceman” brought things back to normal as the Garden was swathed in pinks and purples that made it look like Kanye’s Graduation spaceship touched down. Brandon Flowers worked the stage hard enough to make up for the remaining motionless members and the crowd made up for any lack of energy by joining in on the outro “Oh’s.”

The one two of “This Is Your Life” and “For Reasons Unkown” were solid, if unspectacular, and the contrast showed that the band is clearly more at home when pushing the tempo. “Bones” was subdued but solid and “Joy Ride”, with it’s fiery lighting scheme and Vegas lounge feel, did well with it’s disco strut (Flowers called it their “sleaziest song”).

A solo piano reprise of “Spaceman” was a little bit surprising in a bad way, but “Bling (Confessions of a King)” picked up by sounding like The Killers with attitude. Their slightly awkward Joy Division cover was forgettable, but it didn’t matter by the time Flowers called the crowd “better than Baltimore, so much better than New York, so much better than New Jersey” and set off a riot with “Somebody Told Me”.

“Smile Like You Mean It”, “Change Your Mind”, and “A Dustland Fairytale” were welcomed by the hardcore fans in the crowd but ignored by most everybody else. A sneaky cover of The Cars’ “Drive” was also lost on most of the crowd (I found it hilarious). The crowd further displayed their lack of concert sophistication by utterly failing to clap on beat during “Read My Mind”.

Then came the moment that made it all worthwhile. Main set closer “All These Things That I’ve Done” was as I expected, and the musical payoff was so huge that it rendered the confetti burst at the end completely unnecessary and pithy in comparison. The song was even bigger than the Garden, and therein lies the essential conundrum about The Killers: how can you have a song that good next to the ones that came before?

The triple threat encore of “Human”, “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”, and “When You Were Young” were all big and kept the party going till the end. For the first, Boston& showed that they were predominantly dancer, the second rode on the propulsive bass riff, and the third benefitted greatly from the pyro. Flowers began “Young” by saying, “We’ve got one more song left in us, and we’re going to play it as hard as we can. Are you ready to receive it as hard as you can?” Suffice to say the answer was yes.

While it’s fun to imagine The Killers as the ultimate stadium opening act, tearing through a ten song set and stirring the crowd up to a frenzy for somebody else to take advantage of, it is still impressive to see them nearly sell out an arena on their own, even if it doesn’t result in the best overall show. It’s difficult to be disappointed on a night with so many highlights, so instead of complaining about the lows I’ll just say that I don’t mind if you don’t mind.

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