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Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Live Review: The Killers in Toronto

They're killing them softly


TORONTO - The Killers officially graduated to the big leagues last night in Toronto.

Playing in front of 16,0000 fans at a sold-out Molson Amphitheatre, the Las Vegas '80s revivalists -- whose likeable if derivative sound combines glam, new wave and garage rock -- performed their biggest show in the city yet.

Previously the quartet have played clubs since last July's release of their smash debut collection, Hot Fuss, which has been on the album charts for almost a year.

Even lead singer/synth player Brandon Flowers was moved to mention the reception to the band from their northern neighbours. "There is an awful lot of you," said Flowers, whose strangled, emotional vocals recalled Robert Smith of The Cure more often than not. "I just wanted to say the way that Canada has accepted us is unbelievable."

Speaking of the boyish if androgynous vocalist -- Flowers, not Smith -- he's something of an unlikely sex symbol. His distinctive eye makeup and smart outfit of red trench coat, skinny black tie and pants, and shiny black shoes caused all the pretty young girls around me to continually scream out their affection for him.

The night began promisingly with a statement from Flowers that would unfortunately prove to be true. "We are the hounds of hell and I promise you our bark is worse that our bite," he said before launching into the opening song, Midnight Show, from Hot Fuss.

In other words, the band, while all accomplished musicians -- particularly drummer Ronnie Vannucci whose animated pounding provided a few rare moments of excitement -- are still finding their way as dynamic live performers.

Flowers, playing on a sparkly set of keyboards, seemed way too restrained but whenever he did emote by dropping down to one knee or somewhat dejectedly placing his head in his hands, the crowd went nuts.

Playing on a red curtained set with the group's names in lights above Vannucci's kit, The Killers -- rounded out by guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer -- have the stylish surroundings, now if they could just live up to their own hype.

Most of Hot Fuss, along with a few new songs, was played and it was fun to spot the '80s influences on such lively standouts as Midnight Show (U2), Change Your Mind and Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine (The Cure), Smile Like You Mean It (New Order), their uber-hits Somebody Told Me and Mr. Brightside (Duran Duran, New Order) and the gospel-tinged encore number, All These Things I've Done (U2), which sparked a healthy crowd sing-and-clap-along.


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