The Killers go rock star on Agganis

A review of The Killers with M83 at the Agganis Arena on January 26, 2009

, Editor-in-Chief

It was a big ole dance party at the Agganis Arena on Monday night as The Killers rocked a highly anticipated soldout show. Despite being overly heavy on new material, the 90-minute show was packed with energy, keeping the crowd singing and dancing all night.

The Killers kicked the show off with the two standouts of their new album Day & Age, "Spaceman" and "Losing Touch", the latter of which was buoyed by a touring saxophonist and guitarist. With the crowd already primed in good form, frontman Brandon Flowers declared, "Hello everybody, we’re called The Killers," as if they need any introduction. The crowd roared and with an explosion of sonic power, the band launched into "Somebody Told Me".

The charismatic Flowers, clad in a black jacket adorned with feathers, was in excellent form. He worked from his keys/synth position when necessary (though he usually programmed it or had a touring member fill in) but thrived with the microphone – and crowd – in his hand. Full of energy, he sang with gusto and commanded the crowd’s attention with a true rock star swagger.

The 20-song set was heavy on new material. In fact, the Killers delivered eight of the ten songs off Day & Age. "Human" was the clear fan favorite as the arena exploded into a rave-like scene during its mid-set appearance (though I still don’t get the appeal of this one). Flowers introduced "Joy Ride" by saying the band wrote the song with the idea of happy thoughts, which for them meant time on the ski slopes and other winter activities. He obliged that it was pretty cold outside and thus the crowd should think of warm weather and activities like parasailing instead. The upbeat tune that followed indeed brought a tropical feel to the bitter winter blast, complete with cheesy palm trees that adorned the stage, thanks to infectious congo drumming and soothing sax. The band tried to keep the Caribbean theme going with the mellower tropical vibe of "I Can’t Stay", one of a couple of new tunes that fell flat.

Of course, the band delivered all the expected hits off their debut album Hot Fuss and sophomore effort Sam’s Town. Crowd favorites like "Smile Like You Mean It", "Bones", and "Read My Mind" were sprinkled throughout the set. The band opted for their re-worked version of "Sam’s Town" (originally recorded on Live from Abbey Road and appearing on their b-side compilation disc Sawdust), which showed their more melodic side. The band’s 80’s influences – Duran Duran, Talking Heads, David Bowie – were clearly evident even before they delivered their cover of Joy Division’s "Shadowplay".

Midway through the set Flowers marveled at the soldout crowd of over 6,000 Bostonians, saying, "Our family is getting bigger and bigger." And the band’s graduation to the Boston University arena resulted in a very U2-like lighting show that enhanced the experience even more. The band’s end stage was back dropped by a drapery of LED lights, which adorned everything from the stage’s roof down to the band’s amplifiers, providing for a thrilling visual spectacle on many tunes. And if there was any evidence needed that the band hailed from Las Vegas, maybe it was the light up "K" that adorned Flower’ synthesizer stand.

The Killers rocked the crowd into frenzy with "Mr. Brightside" and with a brief pause for everyone to catch their breath, the epic "All These Things I’ve Done" brought the main set to a close. Flowers stood on the stage monitors holding the microphone stand over the crowd and commanding his faithful troops to sing, "I got soul, but I’m not a soldier." The kinetic energy between the band and crowd soared, nearly toppling the roof, but thankfully the only thing that exploded was a confetti cannon.

The band swiftly returned for a four-song encore. It began with "The World We Live In", yet another new tune that proved to be one (or three) too many as the energy in the building began to ease down. "Reasons Unkown" attempted to put the show back in gear but it was "Jenny Was A Friend of Mine" that got the crowd passionately singing and dancing again. "When You Were Young", complete with a waterfall of pyro, brought the show to a rocking close with a massive sing-along.
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M83, an electro-pop outfit from France, opened the show. Unfortunately, due to the early set time, most folks were still fighting the traffic or spending their time in the concourse grabbing a beer while the band was on stage. Anthony Gonzalez is the band’s mastermind, though keyboardist/singer Morgan Kibb appeared to be more comfortable taking the lead role during the band’s promising set. Touring in support of 2008’s highly acclaimed Youth=Saturdays, the band’s set was full of shoegaze synthesized anthems.

Though some of the group’s more atmospheric tunes seemed to get lost in the massive space, there were a few highlights such as "Kim and Jesse" which was reason enough to get excited about seeing the band in their own intimate setting next time the band is in town. In March, M83 and the Los Angeles Philharmonic will team up for a special performance in California. Julian Kuerti, Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the performance. Let’s hope that Boston connection brings them back here for a similar sort of show.

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