The Killers were so excited to be playing Wembley Stadium for the first time that they wrote a song about it. A cute ditty that namechecked many of the bands that had filled this vast space before them, it even referenced Freddie Mercury’s Wembley Live Aid “day-oh!” in the chorus.
Four albums into a career that was always heading stadiumwards, it was reassuring to see that the transition to music’s biggest available space is not to be taken for granted. Some bands regard this as their birthright.
The Killers seemed genuinely thrilled to be here, especially as their career first burst into life in London — Brandon Flowers, sometimes a cold frontman, was all smiles.
They didn’t have an apocalyptic stage set and never-seen-before gimmicks. Just a big black gazebo flanked by lightning bolt logos, some lasers, confetti and fireworks but nothing too dazzling. This left the songs to do the heavy lifting, and thankfully they were up to the task.
It helps that the band have been writing mass participation anthems since they were playing clubs. The ridiculous repeated line in their early favourite All These Things That I’ve Done — “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” — proved irresistible, bellowed by the thousands for an age.
The big screens lingered on leather-jacketed Flowers and his air-punching fists. Guitarist Dave Keuning appeared to have his eyes closed throughout.
Bassist Mark Stoermer was more hair than man. Ronnie Vannucci was wonderfully watchable, however, pulling some marvellous work faces and even squeezing in a stadium-sized drum solo during From Here on Out.
It was bold to book a stadium show on the back of an album that hasn’t mustered a genuine hit single. Battle Born, their latest, is so far their least successful, but their appeal as a live band is obviously swelling.
Among the new songs, the anthemic Runaways and Miss Atomic Bomb maintained an appropriate level of bombast. An unlikely cover of I Think We’re Alone Now, made famous in 1987 by Tiffany, stressed that headlining a stadium is supposed to be fun. Hopefully they’ll be back.