Review: The Killers at Spark Arena and Auckland Town Hall

The Killers returned to Spark Arena last night for the first time since 2018. Photo / Chris Phelps

The Killers have come out of their pandemic-induced cage and they’ve been doing just fine.

But when they took to the stage at Auckland’s Spark Arena last night, frontman Brandon Flowers couldn’t quite believe they were back.

“Auckland, we’re alive,” he declared. “Can you believe it? Somebody’s gotta pinch me. Ronnie [Vannucci Jr], pinch me.”

He continued, “A pandemic may have kept us apart, but tonight a little thing called rock and roll is bringing us back together.”

The last time the Killers were here was in 2018, and now they’re finally touring their 2020 album Imploding the Mirage. Like countless other acts, they were meant to come last year, but were kept away by Covid – but last night’s show was well and truly worth the wait. One day, arena shows like this won’t feel so surreal, but we haven’t quite lost the wonder yet.

Things got underway with a shower of confetti as the band took us back in time with When You Were Young and Smile Like You Mean It – which Flowers did for most of the night.

And while he’s softly spoken and even reserved in interviews, he reminded us he’s every bit the showman on stage.

Favourites like Somebody Told Me, Human and Shot At The Night had everyone up and out of their seats, before the band launched into a few of the songs from Imploding The Mirage, including Running Towards A Place and boy.

One highlight of the show was undeniably when Flowers spotted audience member Taylor Johnston holding up a sign asking if he could play drums on For Reasons Unknown. “Get this guy up here!”

Brandon Flowers performs with The Killers at Spark Arena, Auckland. Photo / Chris Phelps
Brandon Flowers performs with The Killers at Spark Arena, Auckland. Photo / Chris Phelps

The Wellington musician more than held his own – though as he told the Herald at the Killers’ midnight show at Auckland Town Hall later that night, the moment was totally unplanned.

Turns out it’s not the first time he’s taken over the drums from Ronnie Vannucci Jr – he also played on stage with them during their 2018 show at TSB Arena in Wellington.

When Vannucci Jr got his drums back, it was his time to take centre stage with a deafening version of All These Things That I’ve Done.

They encored with the bravado-filled 2017 hit The Man and then finally – of course – Mr Brightside.

When was the last time you screamed those lyrics in a room full of people? It was the moment the crowd had been waiting for, and it did not disappoint.

But that wasn’t the end of the night for just over 1,000 fans who made it to the second show – a surprise midnight concert which was only announced last Friday – at Auckland Town Hall.

The Killers performed later that same night at Auckland Town Hall. Photo / Chris Phelps
The Killers performed later that same night at Auckland Town Hall. Photo / Chris Phelps

So, how did the smaller, more intimate performance hold up to the arena show – and was it worth going to both?

For die-hard fans, it offered the chance to get a bit more up close and personal to the band and to hear a few repeat performances.

By the time things kicked off it was closer to 12:45am, but the band – and the crowd – showed no signs of slowing down.

They reached for some older hits with the second set, from Cody to This River Is Wild and The Way It Was – tracks that might not have been so well received by a crowd of 11,000, but worked well for a smaller crowd.

Run for Cover was a welcome addition that didn’t make it into the arena set, and of course, they couldn’t close without another rendition of Mr Brightside that had the crowd screaming along at 2am like we were all at a house party with our mates.

And the closing track, a repeat of When You Were Young, was a fitting choice to bookend a night of millennial nostalgia.

The Killers play a second show at Christchurch Arena on November 25

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