The Killers at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Synth Pop Reigned During Sunday Night's Tour Stop
Chock it up to their Sin City roots or simple good showmanship, but The Killers know how to throw a party. Awash in nearly every color of the spectrum, the four-piece delivered a no-holds-barred set of upbeat, synth- and drum-driven hits that truly never relented-at least until the band’s brief and abrupt one-song encore, delivered well before the Bowl’s 10 p.m. closing time.
Prior to the band’s set, punk icons the New York Dolls opened the night with a short but sweet taste of rock ‘n’ roll history. The current Dolls, who first formed in 1971, may only lay claim to two original members (guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and singer David Johansen), but their sound, style, and attitude quite literally scream of a bygone era. Since reuniting in 2004, the band have made careful work of keeping their sloppy, attitude-filled aesthetic alive, and Sunday night they did an impressive job of connecting it to the youngsters. Sylvain shredded through songs on a gorgeous hollow-body Ibanez, while Johansen shook and shimmied through classics like “Jet Boy” with gusto. Much like their headliner, the Dolls’ set came to an unfortunately hasty end, but unlike The Killers, it seemed like they just wanted more time to rock.
After nightfall, when every light, prop, and hair were in place, frontman (donning his signature feathered epaulettes) and Co. took the stage to the tune of the band’s latest enormo hit, “Human.” From there, the high-energy numbers kept on coming, with Flowers hovering over the center stage monitors and belting his heart out for “This Is Your Life” and “The World We Live In.” Backed by a live saxophonist, tracks off the recent Day & Age reached above and beyond in the live setting, calling to mind big ’80s bands like Roxy Music and Talk Talk while still staying true to The Killers’ club-minded roots.
Though mega singles like “Somebody Told Me,” “Mr. Brightside,” and “Bones” were undeniable highlights of the evening, the band’s quick encore and early exit left many in the crowd begging (and jeering) for more, and others just wishing the guys had slowed down and perhaps dished out a piano ballad or two, for old time’s sake.