OAKLAND — Do you think that the Killers‘ frontman Brandon Flowers stood in front of the mirror while his band was writing its new album, Wonderful Wonderful, and asked himself how he could be more of a showman on stage? See, Flowers has always always prided himself as a songwriter, but issues of shyness and self-doubt prevented the Killers from having a stage presence that was equivalent to their sound. So, I ask again, did Flowers look at himself prior to writing “The Man?”
The Killers arrived better than advertised at the second night of Live 105’s Not So Silent Night on Saturday, and that became plenty apparent with the first song of their 16-song headlining set: “Nothing can break me down/ I got gas in the tank/ I got money in the bank/ I got news for you baby/ You’re looking at the man,” Flowers sang, dressed in a black suit, with hair slicked up, looking the part of Brad Pitt. The Killers’ new album could be their best album since 2004 debut Hot Fuss, and the band relinquishing some of its earnestness may play in the reason as to “why.” And Flowers himself had extra pep in his step at Not So Silent Night, doing more to engage the crowd and working the stage from left to right.
The Killers’ energy was at peak level throughout, from a sped-up “Somebody Told Me” (Hot Fuss) to a singalong-inducing “Spaceman” (2008’s Day & Age). It was not until the fourth track of the night, “The Way It Was” (2012’s Battle Born), that the band took a breather, but as it turned out, the song was still played at a tempo as fast as that by any other performer on this night.
While the Las Vegas rockers focused on the hits and earlier material at the show (as is customary at these radio station shows), the two new songs, including “Run For Cover,” proved nearly as strong as the four-song block of hits that ended the show: “Read My Mind,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “When You Were Young” and “Mr. Brightside”
No other performer Saturday was quite able to match the catharsis of the Killers, though Weezer came the closest. The SoCal rock band accomplished this by focusing on the songs fans knew best. Kicking things off with “Say It Ain’t So,” “Hash Pipe” and “Undone – The Sweater Song,” they had the full attention of most at Oracle. The latter song was accompanied by a video of adorable dogs running along a sandy road and diving into swimming pools.
“Beverly Hills” was sandwiched between two new tracks, “Happy Hour” and “Feels Like Summer,” which fit perfectly among the hits. Rivers Cuomo and co, who earlier addressed show attendees as “my children,” also covered the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” in honor of the two bands’ upcoming tour, paying faithful homage to the original, before closing with “Buddy Holly” and “Island in the Sun.”
The remainder of the lineup didn’t get too much flight time before being grounded. Foster The People concentrated their set primarily on new electronic and dance album Sacred Hearts Club. Four of the seven songs they played came from it, including opener “Pay The Man,” “Sit Next to Me” and EDM-heavy set closer “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy.” In between, they snuck in “Pumped Up Kicks,” “Don’t Stop (Color the Walls)” and a cover of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Pop.”
Ohio power poppers Walk the Moon also shined a light on their new album, What If Nothing, with “Headphones,” Kamikaze” and “One Foot.” Unfortunately, the new material was a bit of a retread of their old material. And that could be why fans saved their best reactions for previous hits “Shut Up and Dance” and “Anna Sun.”
Future pop sensation Alice Merton got only four songs in to open the show, not that she was unhappy to share a stage with her favorite band, the Killers. All four of the disco-tinged pop tracks, “Hit the Ground Running,” “Holes,” “Trouble in Paradise” and her global hit “No Roots,” hit home for those who came on time to catch her blink-and-you-missed it set.