Killers knock ’em dead

James Ayre

Despite overbearing security that allowed no refreshment sales, not even water, nothing could derail a smashing gig by Las Vegas band The Killers, April 6, at UCSB’s Thunderdome.

The Sydney, Australia indie quartet, Howling Bells, opened the night by igniting the crowd’s dynamite sticks of anticipation with four intriguing soft rock melodies. The Killers followed suit, opening their set with a bang, kicking off the evening with the title track from their 2006 album “Sam’s Town.”

It was interesting to watch the thousands of college students react to the range of tempos the band offers. It was instantly clear that the students were not in attendance to just sway and applaud politely.

“Wow, The Killers are a great live band,” said City College student, Martin Lemon. “They had great stage presence and I also enjoyed the performance by the support band.”

Many British bands have influenced The Killers, from New Order, Duran Duran and The Cure to Oasis and U2. The band has also been heavily influenced by American culture, allowing them to boast not only a transatlantic appeal, but a truly global one.

Lead vocalist and keyboardist Brandon Flowers was suited and booted in a black dinner suit, strutting around the stage, openly reveling in his new profession fronting a world-famous rock band.

Through the first few songs Flowers’ gestures seemed somewhat rehearsed and restricted. However, his demeanor halfway through “Read My Mind” when he let any lingering inhibitions go and repeatedly pounded his chest and reached out to the mainly female fans that had engulfed the stage.

Guitarist, Dave Keuning and bassist, Mark Stoermer were both lackadaisical from the outset, with the only flair coming from their funky hairstyles and tight musical ability. In vintage Killers fashion, the two allowed Flowers to have most of the stage for himself.

Drummer, Ronnie Vannucci Jr. was flawless and occasionally added a new dimension to his performance by standing up and thumping a sizable gong above his head.

Energy rifled through the crowd when Keuning stroked the instantly recognizable opening chord to “When You Were Young.” This is one of the most rocking tunes from “Sam’s Town” and had almost every member of the crowd throwing their hands in the air and jumping around as if the floor had suddenly transformed into a sizzling bed of molten rock. From there the band never let up, keeping the energy turned to 11 for the rest of the night.

Injected into the well-selected set were some fan favorites from The Killers’ 2004 debut, “Hot Fuss.” The hits included “Somebody Told Me,” “Smile Like You Mean It” and the titanic tune from the summer of 2004, “Mr. Brightside.”

The water-deprived crowd managed to stay vibrant to the very end. Even if the stringent security measures should have been reworked, the small venue was a treat. It allowed fans to get up close and personal to one of the world’s most successful bands from the last four years.