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Some killer,
but lots of filler

The Killers
UIC Pavilion
Chicago, IL
Reviewed: January 20, 2009
The Killers

Story by Andy Argyrakis
File photo by Phil Bonyata

If The Killers' 2004 debut Hot Fuss was its calling card to dance floor glory and 2006's self-indulgent in comparison Sam's Town was a disappointing follow-up, the Las Vegas foursome's third effort Day & Age seeks to land somewhere in the middle. Gone are the odd homages to Bruce Springsteen and the majority of pretentiousness in favor of sugary synths and throbbing riffs (albeit, not as catchy as the first go around).

Given that equation, it was no surprise The Killers' current tour was split between all three personalities, with its earliest material standing up strong in arena settings (even if it was crafted for a club), current cuts putting out a gallant effort (though some falling short in the end) and Sam's Town tunes remaining just as polarizing as they were two years ago. The fresh and faintly familiar sounds of "Spaceman" opened up the evening with its angular guitars and 80s-insipred arrangements, finding front man Brandon Flowers strutting ever so slightly while tickling the ivories behind a keyboard adorned by a light-bulbed "K" on its stand.

That visual kitsch also extended towards several palm trees and disco flashes that permeated the 90-minute evening, but the tone appeared tongue-in-cheek, which made the tackiness forgivable. Though muzzled by a muddy sound mix, "Smile Like You Mean It" provided an obvious example as to why the band's slowing becoming the Duran Duran of this generation, oozing with just enough sass to keep the ladies infatuated and strength to keep the guys interested.

It's too bad The Killers couldn't continue soaring with such legitimate contagiousness, instead falling prey to the corny, sax-soaked sounds of "Joy Ride" and the misdirected topical vibe of "I Can't Stay." While the boys were probably hoping for something like David Bowie's "Young Americans" across both cuts, they wound up with a mix between Jimmy Buffett covering "Copacabana" and Sin City cheese. "Neon Tiger" wasn't quite as tacky, but a zebra-patterned backdrop was completely pointless, spending the first verse caught in the trees as stage hands shuffled to spread it out across the stage.

The Abbey Road version of "Sam's Town" was presented as a piano ballad and did little to attract interest, but Flowers and the fellas did bounce back from the blunders, starting with recent radio staple "Human." Beyond adapting additional intensity in the live environment, the pulsations were highly reminiscent of the Hot Fuss era and aptly built anticipation for the phenomenal "Mr. Brightside" and the fist-pumping finale "All These Things That I Have Done."

An encore also escalated the audience's mood to groove, building from the sophisticated shuffle of "This Is the World That We Live In" to the guitar-entrenched "When You Were Young" (the last disc's attempt to channel The Killers' inner U2 with mildly effective results). Of course, the segment's mightiest moment once again came from freshman year via "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," suggesting that while Day & Age is a step towards reclaiming its undeniable dance decadence, its still void of full-fledged infectiousness.

Related articles:

Concert review - Chicago, IL - Oct. 2006
Lollapalooza 2005 - Festival review - Chicago, IL - July 2005
Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - May 2005

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