Concert Review: The Killers at American Airlines Arena, October 3

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The Killers with Chairlift
Saturday, October 3, 2009
American Airlines Arena, Miami

Better Than: Most Vegas lounge acts.

When the Killers performed at Ultra Music Festival in 2006, they easily won me over with a confident stage presence and high-energy performance that was delivered in a sexy and glamorous package. The synth-laden performance was sleek, danceable, and, most importantly, fun.

Wish I could say Saturday's performance at the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami was equally as fun. It's not exactly news that the band has shunned the dance-rock sound that made it famous for a more straightforward approach rock that is somewhat reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen and U2 -- two artists I don't necessarily consider fun. While Brandon Flowers had a full set of synth keyboards at his disposal, they were rarely used. The band even turned its more danceable material from the breakthrough album Hot Fuss into a limp mess. "Somebody Told Me," "Mr. Brightside," "Smile Like You Mean It," "All These Things That I've Done," and "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" didn't carry the same wallop as they did at that Ultra performance.

Most of the material from their subsequent albums Sam's Town and Day & Age, with the exception of "When We Were Young," "Bones," and "Read My Mind," just didn't stand up to the material from their debut. Half an hour into the performance I found myself getting bored as the band highlighted newer material.

The pinnacle of the sloppy performance was when the Killers invited openers Chairlift to do a cover of one-hit wonders the Church's "Under the Milky Way." First thing, Chairlift would still be languishing in relative obscurity if their single "Bruises" hadn't been featured in an iTunes commercial. Why the Killers would bring them along for the ride is beyond me. And for what? A mediocre cover of a mediocre song? Seriously?

The Killers also did a short rendition of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love." I could only think how appropriate it was to illustrate the band's fall from dance-rock gods to a Vegas lounge act. As they closed the show with "When We Were Young," all I could hope is that they ditch the arena rock and go back to the signature sound and strut that made everyone fall in love with them to begin with.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I hate arena shows. I can count on one hand the times I've seen shows at such a large venue.

Random Detail: Flowers claimed this was the Killers' first ever live show in Miami. Not true. The band performed both at Ultra 2006 and also when the MTV Video Music Awards were in town.

By the Way: I still love the Killers. I just wish my excitement to see them live again could have been fulfilled.

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