Las Vegas rockers the Killers sauntered onto the stage at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center Thursday night and immediately launched into “Mr. Brightside,” the band’s biggest hit. They didn’t even bother dimming the houselights, they kept them up the whole song. Essentially, they opened with their closer moment. Now that’s swagger.
It’s good to see the boys back with a little pep in their step. Way back in 2006, the Killers shot for the stars with “Sam’s Town,” and the stars shot back; the toxic reaction to the album — largely unfounded, as it has aged quite well — seemed to send them scurrying, and they’ve never fully recovered. Yes, they’ve headlined major festivals since, but they never quite ascended to the level they appeared ready to graduate to. In a way, they still seem bruised.
But Thursday they played with a cool confidence to the sold-out Convocation Center, cranking out hit after hit during their 100-minute show. The Killers are currently touring on this year’s “Battle Born,” which never quite matches the grandeur of first single “Runaways.” But it is one of the group’s best songs, which puts it in pretty remarkable company.
Of the 18 songs the Killers played Thursday, 10 are excellent Killers songs, which smash and swirl and offer a sort of epic hug to listeners. Those songs — “Brightside,” “Spaceman,” “Bling (Confessions of a King),” “Human,” “For Reasons Unknown,” “A Dustland Fairytale,” “Read My Mind,” “Runaways,” “When We Were Young” and “All These Things I’ve Done” — sounded gigantic live, matched by the sort of bang-pow-boom production you’d expect from Vegas rock group. And frontman Brandon Flowers delivered them with enthusiasm and heart, even projecting feeling into “Mr. Brightside,” which he’s performed thousands of times. You’d forgive the guy if he was on autopilot with the song by now, but he’s not.
In between the biggies there were a few duds, especially “Here With Me,” which includes a painfully literal lyric about cell phones that Flowers indulged by asking fans to hold their cell phones in the air. Ugh. But hey, look on the bright side — har, har — another big song was always just around the corner.
The show ended with a confetti shower — rather than shredded paper, cutouts of lightning bolts and lowercase Ks rained on the crowd — as well as the assurance that the Killers still have what it takes to get in the ring.