ACL Review: Killers

Bland and uninspiring

Credit the Killers for dispensing with necessities early. The Las Vegas outfit opened their Sunday night headlining set with the umpteenth Tom Petty cover of ACL Fest, unloading “American Girl” in mundane, if sincere, homage. More surprising was following it up with “Mr. Brightside,” which delivered their biggest hit early to jolt a weekend-worn crowd.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Of course front-loading the final set of the first weekend left the band with nowhere to go but down. Despite plenty of radio recognizable hits, the Killers delivering that set-list highlight so early allowed the crowd to leave. Which many did.

They didn’t miss much.

While Brandon Flowers works the stage with natural charisma, there’s absolutely no edge or magic to it. He swells in dramatic bursts with a pseudo-glam grandiosity, but it feels rote, like aiming for the flair of Freddie Mercury or David Bowie, but instead settling into the showmanship of Tom Jones.

The group’s lack of luster was apparent on their long-appropriated take of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay,” polished into utterly innocuousness as a lead-in to the embarrassing “Human.” Returning to the Tom Petty well, even as Flowers acknowledged they don’t know many of his songs, the band wandered through “The Waiting” with less gusto than most karaoke rooms.

Flowers briefly acknowledged the preceding week’s tragedy in his hometown via “The Way It Was,” declaring midway through, “Don’t you ever let any motherfucker get in the way of doing what you want to do.” It was an odd takeaway, but the crowd responded in roaring appreciation.

The band only briefly touched on new LP Wonderful Wonderful with “Run for Cover” mid-set and setting up an encore with the atrocious strut of “The Man.” “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “When You Were Young” closed out the night on a high note, but not enough to salvage the bland and uninspired headlining set.

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Killers, ACL Fest 2017, Brandon Flowers, Tom Petty, Joy Division, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Tom Jones

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