The Killers - V Festival Weston Park 2012 review

'The Killers lift off at V Festival'

The Killers - V Festival Weston Park 2012 review

Photographer:Sara Bowrey

Will Saunders - 19 August 2012

The Killers closed Saturday night at Weston Park with a triumphant headline set chock full of classics on the main Virgin Media stage.

Emerging shortly after sundown to a moody drone of synths and monotone backlighting, The Killers launch headlong into new single 'Runaways'. Brandon Flowers, resplendently handsome in Top Gun leather, channels early nineties Meat Loaf for the new single; all sustained high notes and twinkling pianos with an appropriately power ballad chorus.

Despite this being the first UK show ahead of the release of their fourth LP, 'Battle Born', The Killers show no signs of wanting to lower the tone by dropping too much new material on a devotedly baying crowd. 'Runaways' is followed by 'Somebody Told Me' and 'Smile Like You Mean It', singalong anthems that now have a proven durability in the eight years since their release. If there's any problem with front-loading the set with choice cuts from 'Hot Fuss', it's the reminder that The Killers are condemned to forever produce slightly diminishing returns - that the sheer perfection of the first 20 minutes of their debut ranks alongside the finest opening salvos in pop history, and that all future efforts will invariably look slightly awkward and mawkish in comparison.

It may be 'Day and Age' that The Killers turn to for default filler in the set, but if the other new track showcased, 'Miss Atomic Bomb', is any indication of form, 'Battle Born' will pick up where 'Sam's Town' left off; all Cadillacs and drive-ins, ten gallon Stetsons and high school sweethearts in the dustbowl. This imagery may seem incongruous with a rolling green field of lobster-red parched Englishmen bawling along to every word with ear-splittingly out of tune abandon, but the contradiction doesn't seem to bother too many.

Flowers' easy charm as a frontman, all Hollywood handsome, bashful graciousness and effortless dynamism, not to mention his superbly powerful voice, is ably supported by Dave Kuening's mastery of the minor scale arpeggio and Ronnie Vanucci Jnr's poundingly sweaty tubthumping to create as full and meaty a sound as yet heard at V. This symphonic richness is best felt on the booming singalongs of 'Human' and 'Read My Mind', although the former is slightly marred by many sections of the audience still insisting on pluralising the chorus to 'Dancers'.

The set's most left field moment comes with a tribute cover to tomorrow's main stage supporting act, Noel Gallagher. Flowers and Kuening play a stylishly stripped down 'Don't Look Back in Anger', prompting roars of approving delight from the Noel-disciple heavy crowd.

It's 'Mr. Brightside' though that elicits the biggest cheers and shout-along moment. A stone cold classic, 'Brightside' has become a student night, karaoke and radio staple since its release, but hearing it live, performed with such dynamic vigour, is a powerful reminder of the track's timelessly iconic status. 'Brightside' was made for festivals, as was closer 'All These Things That I've Done', with Flowers mercifully resisting the temptation to McCartney the song into a 20 minute crowd chanting contest, instead using the simplicity of the "soul not a soldier" refrain to charge the audience into a gospel frenzy before sneaking off under a thick fog of adulation to 'close' the set.

By most other standards, an encore of your 6th and 3rd best songs would be a fitting culmination to an enthralling performance, but 'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine' and 'When You Were Young', even with Vanucci's heavy metal tribute 2 minute drum fill denouement, can't quite match up to what came before. Nevertheless, to paraphrase another mainstay of Midwest Americana, The Killers owned the night, peaking the first day of V at the close, and ensuring campsite singalong exclusivity for one balmy evening at least.

The Killers at V Festival, Staffordshire setlist

Somebody Told Me
Smile Like You Mean It
This Is Your Life
Miss Atomic Bomb
For Reasons Unknown
Bling (Confession Of A King)
A Dustland Fairytale
Don't Look Back In Anger
Read My Mind
Mr Brightside
All These Things That I've Done
Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
When You Were Young


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