Finally, The Killers
Finally after four years (show was announced in 2009) of waiting since their 2010 “Day and Age” concert tour in Manila was cancelled, The Killers performed in a jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum for two hours on Thursday night, September 26. On tour to promote their latest album “Battle Born,” the band did about 20 songs and the Filipino audience were left asking for more. Video by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines—‘Sa wakas, The Killers are here!”
Having “wakas (end)” and “killers being here” in the same sentence could bring fear in other parts of the country, like in Zamboanga City for one, but coming from vocalist Brandon Flowers on Thursday at the jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum, it meant nothing but the best of being alive and being there.
Four years of waiting (show was announced in 2009) after their cancelled gig in Manila for their “Day and Age” tour, The Killers arrived and performed about 20 songs for nearly two hours and the Filipino audience were left asking for more.
It’s a good thing the management decided to remove all the chairs in the patron area for the necessary dancing, jumping, body slamming and endless—gasp—“selfie” opportunities. Like an annoying addiction to illegal drugs, some people simply can’t help but pose with the stage as background in almost every song and it almost awaken the killers in us.
Show-biz fans were amazed to see the likes of Anne Curtis, sister Jasmine, with their respective dates Erwan Heussaff and Sam Concepcion, lip-synching like any die-hard rock fans would.
All hits, no funfare
Filipino rock band Sandwich opened the show at around 8 p.m. but finishing their four-track set in more or less 30 minutes. Many thought The Killers would get up on stage at once but there was a long wait, benefiting latecomers still lining up outside.
As simple as getting up to work, without blinding lights, pyrotechnics and other fancy special effects, Flowers, drummer Ronnie Vannucci, lead guitarist Dave Keuning, session bassist Jake Blanton and session guitarist-keyboard player Theodore “Ted” Sablay went up the stage at around 9:25 p.m.
The thin, clean-cut Flowers looked more like a young IT executive about to explain the latest Smartphone product, in contrast to the long-haired, rocker get-up of his band mates.
Catching everyone by surprise, The Killers started their set with “Mr.Brightside,” the debut single from their first album “Hot Fuss” (2004). It’s all pandemonium at the Big Dome. Even the lighting department seemed to have been caught off guard and forgot to turn off the bright lights.
Everyone at the Big Dome sang the lyrics of the song which Flowers wrote, reportedly, for a former girlfriend who cheated on him. As the story goes, the music was written by Keuning long before he met the rest of The Killers. It was the first piece that Flowers heard when he listened to the cassette tape Keuning gave him.
Not all may be able to relate to the lines by what the then brokenhearted Flowers came up with but listening closely, they all speak of paranoia and jealousy:
“Now I’m falling asleep/ And she’s calling a cab/ While he’s having a smoke/ And she’s taking a drag/ Now they’re going to bed/ And my stomach is sick/ And it’s all in my head
“But she’s touching his chest now/ He takes off her dress now/ Let me go
“And I just can’t look it’s killing me/ And taking control/ Jealousy, turning saints into the sea/ Swimming through sick lullabies/ Choking on your alibis
“But it’s just the price I pay/ Destiny is calling me/ Open up my eager eyes/ Cause I’m Mr. Brightside.”
Despite the sad meaning, the song gave the group its MTV Best New Artist in a Video Award in 2005. As of posting, its official music video on YouTube has more than 65 million hits.
Sustaining the momentum, The Killers followed it up with “Spaceman” from their third studio album, “Day and Age”. Apparently a song about suicide and surviving several attempts on it, “Spaceman” was ironically featured in the trailer of the animated film, “Planet 51”.
Coincidentally, after this song was released and became a big hit, The Killers took a hiatus in 2010 though some speculated the band broke up for good. The same year, Flowers released his solo album, “Flamingo.” Reasons why their Manila gig was cancelled back then.
Third song was “The Way It Was” from their latest album, “Battle Born.” Written by the four members, the equally danceable song that begins with an upbeat guitar riffs talks about a couple on the verge of a break up.
Flowers described it a song about a getting caught in a “crossroad of a relationship and so much sh_t.”
“If I go on/ With you by my side/ Can it be/ The way it was/ When we met/ Did you forget all about those golden nights?/ Maybe a thief stole your heart/ Or maybe we just drifted apart..
All of our plans have fallen through/ Sometimes a dream, it don’t come true…”
As if trying to comfort the audience for playing that song, fourth track was another old hit, the very upbeat and self-explanatory “Smile Like You Mean It,” from “Hot Fuss.”
Next, Flowers played the first few lines of “Human” on the piano, but instead went on to sing “Bling (Confession of a King)” from their second studio album, “Sam’s Town.” A lesser known hit, most members of the audience took the time to rest and do those “selfies.”
He followed it up with their cover version of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay.” The Killers recorded it in 2007 for the tribute film “Control” on the iconic English rock band.
“Miss Atomic Bomb,” from “Battle Born” followed. A song about the harshness of fleeting relationships so common among the youth, the teenagers in the audience seemed to have the louder voices singing videoke-style to it.
Puzzling lyrics with catchy tunes
Then they sang “Human” in full. Another hit from “Day and Age,” the song is a signature piece of the band because of its puzzling chorus line: “Are we human or are we dancer?”
It’s one of those catchy killer tunes that said if you can’t get it, just dance.
They followed it up with “Somebody Told Me”, another hit with mind-boggling lines.
“Well somebody told me/ You had a boyfriend/ Who looked like a girlfriend/ That I had in February of last year/ It’s not confidential/ I’ve got potential…”
A tribute to the 1980s, Flowers asked the crowd if they’ve heard of a singer named Tiffany then proceeded with their cover version of her hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
Suddenly, I was brought to prom night and I remembered the girls with their bangs and dresses with shoulder pads.
I was hoping the next song would be a personal favorite, another cover but this time Dire Strait’s “Romeo and Juliet.” But for reasons unknown to me, they followed it up with an original, a lesser hit called, oh well, “For Reasons Unknown.”
Before proceeding to the next song, he introduced each band member and gave them a few minutes to shine doing solos. Another surprise of the night was session guitar player Theodore Sablay, who Flowers introduced as someone they have to bring along wherever they go.
“His father is from Pam-pang-ga province,” said Flowers, eliciting loud applause and cheers.
Then he sang “From Here on Out,” a not so-known track from “Battle Born” and we tried to delight ourselves again at the countless “selfie” moments taking place around us.
Afterwards, he asked the audience about motto. What is a motto?
He explained in our country it’s about being, “Makatao (people-oriented), makaDiyos (God-fearing), makakalikasan (pro-environment) at makabayan (faithful to the country).”
With Flowers knowing a few Tagalog words delighted the crowd even more.
“That’s your motto but we’re from Vegas and you know our motto is ‘what happens in Vegas…” Flowers said and let the audience finish his sentence.
He explained something about being in the Philippines so his Las Vegas motto doesn’t apply anymore.
Next was “Dustland Fairytale,” from their “Day and Age” album. A very personal composition of Flowers about his parents and childhood years in Las Vegas, the Filipino audience enjoyed it as much.
The next three songs were the ones that made the audience forget about doing “selfies” and postpone their trip to the comfort room.
“Read My Mind,” “Runaways” and “All These Things That I’ve Done” were sung successively.
“Read My Mind” from “Sam’s Town” was so popular even the pioneers of electronica, The Petshop Boys, did an extended version of it.
“Runaways” from “Battle Born” is a recent hit and many observed it’s highly influenced by Bruce Springsteen’s music.
“All These Things That I’ve Done” is another dance tune from “Hot Fuss.” Despite its mind-boggling chorus line, “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” it was another videoke moment.
Many thought it would be the last song as the band members said their goodbyes, thank-you and left the stage, the lights dimmed, the backstage crew taking over.
After loud cheers and a chorus of “more, more, more” The Killers seemed to have changed their minds and went back to perform—no pun intended—“Change Your Mind” and “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine.”
For their final encore, Flowers asked the audience what they wanted to hear and the loudest words that came out sounded like “When We Were Young.”
Another hit from “Sam’s Town” the song has a catchy tune reportedly influenced again by Springsteen. It’s written in a way the audience can shout the rhyming last words of every line.
“You sit there in your heartache/ Waiting on some beautiful boy to/ save you from your old ways/ You play forgiveness/ Watch him now, here he come
“He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus/ But he talks like a gentleman/ Like you imagined when you were young.”
That night, though we’re only in our 40s, we felt like we’re 14 again.
For a band named The Killers, they seemed to have given us new souls though we’re not soldiers and we’re out longing for a girlfriend who looks like a boyfriend.
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