The Killers at Reading Festival review: pure Vegas showmanship

6 mins read
The Killers

“What’s up Reading?” drawls the indie Elvis himself, Mr Brandon Flowers. “You know they used to call this festival Reading Rock? Well, we’re turning back the clock tonight”. Offering up “some of the finest rock ‘n’ roll on planet Earth” and a “can I get an amen?”, The Killers take us to church for their second R&L headline set, and one that very much fits Flowers’ bill as a masterclass from some real monsters of rock (brought to you, of course, “by way of the Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada”).

Opening with the underrated Springsteen-space rush of ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ from 2020’s stellar and vivacious ‘Imploding The Mirage’, The Killers strut with the confidence of a band who couldn’t be doing anything but standing on this hallowed stage tonight – and they’ve got the ammo to back it up. Come on, ‘When You Were Young’ into ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’ into ‘Smile Like You Mean It’? Monsieur, with these bangers you are really spoiling us.

“Some songs are band aids, this one’s a prayer,” offers Flowers of a graceful outing of ‘Running Towards A Place’. And some songs are paper pint cup thrown to the moon, such as the following ‘Somebody Told Me’ and lowkey favourite ‘Spaceman’. By this point Reading are all in the palm of Flowers’ hand, but then the band opt to share the spotlight with young teen “Ozzy, from just outside of Bath”, who is beckoned on stage to drum along to ‘For Reasons Unknown‘ after catching the frontman’s eye with his sign. The lad lags a little (“more cocaine than marijuana,” advises Flowers) but what the kid lacks in speed, he more than makes up for in razzmatazz, and Reading is entirely behind him. He could be the true hero of the weekend. Geopolitical crisis averted.

CREDIT: Chris Phelps

The New Order meets Daft Punk new single ‘Your Side Of Town’ makes a promising debut, but don’t hold out for more synth bops from the boys just yet as Flowers recently declared their next record will be of more folkier leanings, in line with 2021’s ‘Pressure Machine’. We’ll take it, as long as the shows stay this fun with moments like that slick segue of ‘Runaways’ into ‘Read My Mind’.

Introducing the now 20-year-old ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, Flowers tells us that “the boys who wrote that song stand before you as men”. Whatever, the spirit of this music is timeless. Case in point: the neon celebration of the encore. After the hedonism of ‘The Man’ and mass-singalong to ‘Human’, the wedding indie disco staple of ‘Mr Brightside’ is splayed out into an epic triple threat tonight – starting with a burst from the minimal, elegiac, chrome sheen of Jacques Lu Cont’s ‘Thin White Duke Remix’ before the usual banger rendition and closing with a never-ending drum wig-out from Ronnie Vannucci Jr.

It’s a fitting showstopper of showmanship to a set that could run as a Vegas residency for the rest of time, but for tonight The Killers were very much ours. The ticker-tape and added pomp was the cherry on top, but sometimes all you need is a little bit of ‘Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll’.

The Killers at Reading 2023. Credit: Chris Phelps
Credit: Chris Phelps

The Killers played: 

‘My Own Soul’s Warning’
‘When You Were Young’
‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’
‘Smile Like You Mean It’
‘Shot at the Night’
‘Running Towards A Place’
‘Somebody Told Me’
‘For Reasons Unknown’
‘Your Side of Town’
‘Read My Mind’
‘All These Things That I’ve Done’
‘The Man’
‘Mr. Brightside’

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