Sunday, March 10, 2013

Save my soul with Rock 'n' Roll - The Killers in Munich

The Killers - clean stage for a clean show

When I arrived at the venue for the night it was clear pretty soon that this all would be several sizes bigger than the other shows in the last couple of weeks. Not only does the Zenith hold with 6000 people the triple amount of the E-Werk in Cologne, but the stage had the size of almost the complete club where The Joy Formidable played.
I also could witness very extended prepwork happening on stage including 3 lightning technicians climbing up to the venue ceiling at each side of the stage. Nevertheless I was there early and had no trouble just walking up to the stage and ended up in the 2nd row surrounded by far traveled hardcore The Killers fans, who looked at me puzzled when I answered the question how many shows I had already seen with "None." But hey ... I like to be front row because I like look the musicians in the face and see the real people playing. Otherwise I can stay home and watch concert DVDs. 

But first of all we of course had to go through the performance of the support band Louis XIV - longterm friends and companions of The Killers. I kind of liked the sound - a pretty heavy bluesy rock driven by guitarist and piano player Brian Karscig, but I totally did not like the "singer" Jason Hill. He did not even really sing - I would call it more "shouting". On the positive side of things The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci, my favorite guy for the night, made a guest appearance on stage playing the guitar for a couple of songs and having obviously fun with his friend Brian. 

After Louis XIV the 6000 people at the Zenith got really, really excited for The Killers and as reserved the audience in Munich often is - it wasn't for this night. When the band came on stage after about 40 minutes of soundcheck and stage preperation folks went crazy right from the first note, which was btw the coolest move The Killers did all night:  they started the show with the venue light on so they could see the audience and performed their super hit "Mr. Brightside" as first song of the show.
While everybody was celebrating around me I already cringed a little because the Zenith is not exactly known for its great sound and up there in front of the stage it was especially for the first couple of songs far from ideal. 

Brandon Flowers of The Killers

What followed was a show. A good show, but a show. I often turned around to look at the faces of the people around me and they all smiled and sang along. It seems there were 5999 happy fans - and me.
Probably I was already powered out emotionally after seeing the lovely Friska Viljor and my madly loved Biffy Clyro, but The Killers could not save my soul. They could not even reach it - at all. 

For me it was all too much ... too much technical perfection, too much glamour, too much light show, to much pyrotechnics, too much glitter bombs (not kidding - the glitter even had the flash shape of the band logo!), but by far not enough soul.

To be fair - it was not Brandon Flowers' fault. The frontman worked hard that night. He offered a great performance and made the complete huge stage his own and often went down the steps to the lower part to get in contact with his fans. It was also Brandon Flowers who created the one short special moment for me that allowed for a small second to look behind the shiny facades:
During the very last song Flowers climbed down the stage to shake hands with the front row people, but before he did he stopped right in front of me at the edge of the stage, let fall his bright smile for a second to focus, took a deep breath and then removed his wedding band from his finger carefully storing it away in the pocket of his tight black pants (that man is skinny!) before he switched on his super star appearance again to please the truest of his fans who were streatching out their hands to get hold of him for the wink of an eye. 

Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers
It was also not the fault of drummer Ronnie Vannucci. The man is full of energy and put on a Rock 'n' Roll show how I like it. It was also him who after the main part of the show as well as after the encore one more time went to the microphone to thank the audience. 

But the rest of the band? They looked like technicians doing a job. Nobody really moved, nobody did anything surprising, nobody really smiled for even looked much into the audience. Yes - the performance was pretty much perfect, but it was more like watching a well oiled machine than a real band. 

Dave Keuning of The Killers
But who really and significantly PISSED ME OFF that night was guitarist (and songwriter) Dave Keuning. Who the f*** that dude thinks he is? The expression in his face was arrogant and bored - and I was very, very close to him all night that I really could closely watch him. He did not crack a smile, he barely looked down to the people directly in front of him, he did not show any passion in the way he played. And does he really think throwing his empty water bottles into the crowd is something nice? Plectrons, set lists, drum sticks - all nice memorabilia, but an empty water bottle a so called rock star drained? Common ... ! 
Funny enough it was Brandon Flowers who pretty much put it in the right words when he introduced Keuning with: "This is not a ghost, this is not a hologram, this is the real Dave Keuning." Thank you, Brandon! If you would not have said this, I would have opted for the ghost. Looking at him made me miss the three great guys of Biffy Clyro badly.

Sorry for the big rant at the end which makes the review sound worse than the concert really was, but if there is something I really do not like then it is when I have the feeling a musician is not appreciating that so many people spent so much money to come to see him play and the love these people are showing for his work with knowing all the lyrics and celebrating the performance. 

The setlits: 

Mr. Brightside
The Way It Was
Smile Like You Mean It
Prize Fighter
Miss Atomic Bomb
Somebody Told Me
Flesh and Bone
For Reasons Unknown
From Here On Out
A Dustland Fairytale
Forever Young
Read My Mind
All These Things That I've Done
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
When You Were Young
Battle Born

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