The Killers Imploding The Mirage Out Friday
In a parallel universe, known as normal life, this album would have arrived at the end of May. At the same time, The Killers would have flown in to kick-start the summer, playing stadiums from Falkirk to Arsenal. They had announced ten shows in Britain and Ireland, every one a sell-out, and added two more.
On a hot summer night, in the warm embrace of a huge crowd, the sound of The Killers is just what you need: uplifting, inclusive, urgent yet easy-going. The bad news is that their tour has gone back a whole year to May 2021. The good news is that their new album will make you feel you’re at a gig now.
Brandon Flowers can’t open his mouth without giving the impression that he’s leading a choir of thousands. He’s a natural-born frontman – almost too charming, like a Disney prince. But he also brings plenty of skill to the task. He cruises through the verses, then lets rip in the chorus, going straight from nonchalant to desperate. It’s an old trick but an effective one.
The KIllers’ new album, Imploding The Mirage, will make you feel you’re at a gig now even if their tour has been pushed back a whole year. Above: Frontman Brandon Flowers
Imploding The Mirage starts with a shimmer of film music and a ghostly vocal, and you wonder if this is a change of tack. Then a great chiming synthesiser riff kicks in, backed by a pumping bass. It has taken 57 seconds for The Killers to do The Killers’ thing. From here on in, it’s one anthem after another.
Growing up in Nevada and Utah, Flowers somehow fell for the English bands of the 1980s. Headlining Glastonbury last year, he paid tribute to the Pet Shop Boys and brought Neil Tennant out to sing with him. It’s an influence that has played out in an interesting way.
It’s A Fact
Former Prime Minister David Cameron is a Killers fan: he was once spotted at their gig at the Royal Albert Hall – watching from a private box.
Of all the Pet Shop Boys’ hits, the one this album brings to mind is the least characteristic – their mischievous remake of U2’s Where The Streets Have No Name. It’s not the mischief: it’s the way The Killers manage to fuse artful dancefloor pop with earnest stadium rock.
And they’re still very American, writing songs with names such as When The Dreams Run Dry, painting pictures that reek of Hollywood and Edward Hopper. They are all things to many people.
A track called Caution culminates in a guitar solo that would give the Pet Shop Boys palpitations; it’s supplied by Lindsey Buckingham, formerly of Fleetwood Mac.
On Lightning Fields, Flowers’s pleading vocal is answered by a familiar purr. It’s k.d. lang, who is such an effortless singer that it takes a brave man to duet with her. Flowers joins a small club, founded by the late Roy Orbison, now chaired by the great Tony Bennett.
Between tours, The Killers have been honing their craft, putting away childish things – gone are the lines like ‘are we human, or are we dancer?’.
They used to be a singles band, but this album is all Killer, no filler. And thanks to the pandemic, the fans will know every word by the time they finally get into those stadiums.
GIG OF THE WEEK
Virgin Money Unity Arena, Newcastle Racecourse
There are two ways to put on a pop concert during a pandemic. The American way is to go into denial and hope that not too many spectators die. The British way is to make it work with masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing. Can it still be a proper gig? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind at Newcastle Racecourse.
Over the next month, stars from Supergrass to Van Morrison will play Newcastle Racecourse to crowds of 2,500. First up are two sold-out shows from Sam Fender (above)
Over the next month, stars from Supergrass to Van Morrison will play here to crowds of 2,500. You book a platform for six, like a box at the theatre crossed with a cattle pen. First up are two sold-out shows from Sam Fender, the singer-songwriter from North Shields known as the Geordie Springsteen. When he played the Manchester Academy last winter, you could feel the excitement. Here there are a few whoops.
The fans are too far apart to infect each other with enthusiasm. Most of the elements of outdoor gigs are in place, from ponchos to portaloos. There are lasers too, though the fireworks are on the small side, and Fender gets an atmosphere going in the end. The real Springsteen would approve.