Until next year’s return … A Look Back at the Wonderful Wonderful World of The Killers @ the Staples Center on 02.02.18

Okay, now that I’ve secured a pair of tix for the Killers’ Los Angeles show next August, I feel I’m finally ready to do this long-lingering post. Of course, I hold full responsibility for any and all delays. It’s just taken me awhile to find the proper motivation. I’d like to say that’s three years worth of delay, since this performance dates back to February of ’18. But really, it’s only been a little over a year since I’ve seriously considered it.

You see, the Killer’s SoCal layover at the Staples Center for the “Wonderful Wonderful” tour predates this blog’s inception – i.e. it fell by the wayside due to bad timing and sheer circumstance. And although I’ve been resurrecting numerous long-since-passed concerts in prior days (and mostly during the pandemic, due to the obvious absence of live music), I never quite got around to authoring this one.

There’s not much I can really say about this Las Vegas-born outfit that hasn’t already been said – or for that matter, reviewed, interviewed, critiqued and/or celebrated. Since the turn of the millennium, they’ve matured into one of the biggest bands in the U.S., embracing and embodying the quintessential rock of contemporary nostalgic Americana.

Who’d have thought a band named after a fictional act in a New Order music video (for “Crystal”) would ever ascend to such heights? But truth be told, once we were all blindsided by that amazing single “Mr. Brightside,” not to mention the accompanying ’04 debut LP “Hot Fuss,” it certainly seemed inevitable – at least, in hindsight.

The Killers successfully do that thing that many artists stumble through in their subsequent years. They’ve got a definitive, durable style that’s remarkably pop-oriented and mainstream without ever getting dull. And they’re just indie enough, full of a classy sort of kitsch that doesn’t quite take itself too seriously, even when it’s reaching for anthemic heights.

I guess you could say they possess an inherent likability, which translates into an easy-on-the-ears accessibility, playing both to the foreground fans and the distant cheap seats in equal measure, all the while bridging the gap with complete heartfelt sincerity … and a little bit of boisterous cheese.

But that’s just me. And it was my main takeaway from the Killers’ surprisingly great Staples Center performance from 02.02.18, which I chose to check out, one because I’d never seen them before, and two because it was a few days before my birthday, so I wanted to give myself a (potentially) memorable present.

I do recall my mindset from back then. I’d heard some mixed comments about previous tours – i.e. they weren’t that great. But I really enjoyed their then-latest album “Wonderful Wonderful,” which was their fifth to date, and the first I really paid attention to since their debut. So I kept an open mind, not really sure what to expect, yet opting not to delve too deeply into back catalogue reminiscence. I figured if I’m going to be reminded of the past, let their live performance do the reintroductions.

With that mindset, I forgot just how many Killers’ classics I knew and enjoyed. It’s like listening to a hit band that’s been around for 30-40 years, where everything they play, you know. And if you didn’t, you could tell you’d like it anyway. The entire performance embodied a comfort and familiarity that made you feel right at home, even when there’s 18,000 people between you and the stage.

The other thing I distinctly recall was the stunning Vegas-centric visual aspect, a super-cool homage to desert heritage and the City of Sin. Just think of using old town Vegas iconography as an animated graphic design element – flashing lights and neon signage, mixed with dry cracked lakebeds, tumbleweed, and ghost town motifs – all projected on a floor to ceiling sized set of walled LED panels.

I’m sure we’ll get a whole new take on all of this, when the Killers return next year – except this time, it’ll be less Vegas and more Utah, where frontman Brandon Flowers now resides and finds his latest inspiration.

Plus, they’ll have two new albums that have never been performed on-stage (not counting live streams, talk shows, and one-offs), the explosive arena-sized ’20 pandemic release “Imploding the Mirage,” and the upcoming pandemic recorded “Pressure Machine,” which Flowers has been quoted as saying it might be the better of the two. I haven’t heard it yet, since it doesn’t come out for a few more weeks. But I’m certainly looking forward to it.

Regarding this particular Killers flashback, I think I went a bit crazy, recording close to half their set, which I’ve included here. They’re all shot from the far side of the Staples Center – i.e. the (semi) cheap seats (although, not really so cheap) – which has it’s pros and cons. The downside, of course, is it’s far away. The upside, thankfully, is you can take in the whole spectacle in one continuous gaze. And the sound is as full and clear as an arena recording can be with iPhone camera tech from ’18.

A couple of these tracks might be truncated – i.e. not the full deal. But most of them are pretty solid, with standouts being the back-to-back renditions of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “Somebody Told Me,” “Runaways” and “All These Things That I’ve Done,” and the epic encore of “Mr. Brightside,” both the Jacques Lu Cont’s Thin White Duke Mix, followed by the house-lights-on single version we all know and love.

Alongside a few others, there’s also a very cool version of “The Man,” complete with all that Vegas signage super-styling I was mentioning earlier.

After rewatching/reliving all of these live renditions of Killers classics, I can honestly say I’m pretty excited to see them return to the stage, which in my case will be the Banc of California stadium in DTLA. I’m typically not the biggest fan of stadium-sized concerts or crowds. But if there’s any contemporary American rock band that can fill it with both sound and intimacy, it’s the Killers.

I’ll leave it at that, and plan a follow-up post for August of next year. Until then, enjoy these fine selections from the Killers’ “Wonderful Wonderful” tour at the Staples Center in DTLA on 02.02.18.

The Killers perform “Wonderful Wonderful” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform “Shot at the Night” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “Somebody Told Me” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform a cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform “Smile Like You Mean It” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform “The Man” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform “Runaways” and “All These Things That I’ve Done” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform “When We Were Young” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The Killers perform both the Jacques Lu Cont’s Thin White Duke Mix and the original ’04 version of “Mr. Brightside” at the Staples Center on 02-02-18.

The obligatory setlist as playlist …

The Killers’ setlist from their 02.02.18 performance at the Staples Center. It’s missing “Baby , I Can Drive Tonight (a.k.a. “L.A. Song”), which at the time, was unreleased. Not sure if it’s since seen the light of day. But at the very least, it’s not on Spotify, so it’s not featured in this setlist. It would slot as the 16th track performed.