While they’re not your usual self-obsessed rock stars, The Killers are not modest about their sell-out show in Hyde Park this evening. Towards the end of the evening, Brandon Flowers (having spent the majority of the show in a pink jacket – “real men…” and all that) asks for an image to be put onto the screen. It’s the poster showing all six BST Hyde Park dates from this year, featuring Kings Of Leon, Green Day and Phil Collins, with The Killers’ date the only one to feature a ‘Sold Out’ banner over it. Whether he’s aware that since then all six shows have sold out is unclear; however, the majority did it within the last week, whereas all tickets for this show went just over a couple of weeks after going on sale. The fact that it’s the fastest selling BST show since The Rolling Stones in 2013 give an idea of this band’s status today.
But perhaps the rest of the bill played a part. Earlier in the day, Tears For Fears made a rare outing to London, playing to an unexpectedly huge crowd. Their name might get mixed up with the ’80s acts doing the touring circuits together, but the audience know all of the words to these finely-crafted, timeless pop songs (they walk onstage to Lorde’s cover of ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’, if any proof were needed). Their version of the song and ‘Sowing The Seeds Of Love’ arrive early, while a cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ raises eyebrows, and not in a bad way, whilst ‘Pale Shelter’ brings back memories of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City radio stations. ‘Shout’ ends the set, with the audience doing as they’re commanded, with the only downside of the set the lack of tracks from their last studio album, 2005’s Everybody Loves A Happy Ending.
One early observation from the people walking around the site was the amount of White Lies T-shirts on show, and from people of all ages. Over on the Barclaycard stage, theirs is one of the biggest head counts in this area of the festival, with arms raised to their Joy Division-influenced sound (only with bigger choruses, and the synths turned up a little louder). Old favourites ‘To Lose My Life’ and ‘Farewell To The Fairground’ (pretty apt with the swinging chairs flying nearby) blend ideally with the slightly dancier, almost disco-tinged ‘There Goes Our Love Again’. Their last couple of releases haven’t hit the heights of their debut, but make no mistake, this band should be bigger than this.
And so to the headline spot, and Brandon, Dave and Ronnie’s headline slot (Mark Stoemer quit touring with the band a couple of years ago – although he’s still very much a writing and recording member of the band.) After opening with new track ‘The Man’ – arguably their funkiest to date – and a blast of pink confetti, everything else was familiar territory, as if this was the last of their live dates to not feature material from upcoming album Wonderful, Wonderful.
“London, it’s been four years,” Brandon Flowers reminds the crowd – referring to their Wembley Stadium date – “We need to get better acquainted.” And we do.
‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Human’ show up early, followed by ‘The Way It Was’ – on paper a bit of a “meh” track of theirs, but in a live setting, a HUGE slightly-MOR anthem, but for all the right reasons (see also ‘A Dustland Fairytale’).
Album tracks are not ignored, with ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ and ‘This Is Your Life’ as well-revived as any big hits; however, Sam’s Town steals the show, particularly when Flowers discusses how they realised that some songs have been ignored, before introducing one of their most Springsteen moments – ‘This River Is Wild’.
And just like that, following a Joy Division cover (‘Shadowplay’) and ‘Runaways’ appearing surprisingly late in the night (the band haven’t been particularly complimentary of their last LP, Battle Born), chants of “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” echo across Hyde Park. For most bands, it might have been a case of blowing their load too soon, but this Las Vegas troupe have a little more in them, as ‘Shot At The Night’ (lovely to see a “Greatest Hits new song” not ignored) is the last moment to sway to, and ‘When We Were Young’ precedes ‘Mr Brightside’ to close the show; two very different sounding tracks, but equally important (and adored) in the band’s back catalogue.
The band play a full UK tour later in the year, but the big question remains: Which act at next year’s BST Hyde Park could sell out as quickly as The Killers?