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Concert review: The Killers 5/8/09 in Camden, NJ

Overall show rating: B

I’ve been a fan of The Killers for a few years, and more than a little annoyed during all of that time that I never could manage to get to one of their concerts. Granted I’d heard mixed things about the quality of the show they put on, so perhaps it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that it took until the Day and Age tour for me to see them live.

Last night I made my way over to the Susquehanna Bank Center (still the E-Center in my head…just how many name changes has this place been through?) via the ferry from Philadelphia. I’m always wary of this place because the sound can absolutely suck if you’re not sitting in a good location, and the mix for opening band Chairlift didn’t leave me too hopeful. I don’t think I understood a single word Caroline Polachek sang the whole set (except during one 80s cover song which I knew the words to already, though damned if I can remember now what song it was). With her trying to sound like a cross between Bjork and Dolores O’Riordan and a very awkward stage presence to boot (if you could call it a presence at all), I found them boring and too ’80s-wannabe without much of anything new to say–which is what I liked about The Killers in the first place, that they took those 80s sounds and influences yet still made music that was fresh and modern.

But enough about the opening act. After a mind-bogglingly long set changeover (something like 50 minutes with my only entertainment the young lovers next to me having a huge spat over who did or didn’t text whom the night before), The Killers took the stage at 9:30. From my sixth row seat behind the pit, I had a decent enough view of the band and the stage, save for what was blocked by the tall dude in front of me. Good thing he kept leaving to get more to drink, or was often hunched down to hide the joint he was smoking. The band ran through a tight set, effectively mixing up songs from Day and Age, Sam’s Town, and Hot Fuss with one track from Sawdust as well: their great cover of “Shadowplay”, of which I managed to shoot some video. Ronnie seemed to be having some snare troubles at the time, but still managed to get it all together for the end of the track.

A friend had told me I’d get a kick out of watching Ronnie play, and she was right. He and of course Brandon are really the “stars” of the band on stage, while Dave and Mark mostly hung back at their respective sides, playing well but not doing much else. What is it with me and bands that have highly charismatic frontmen and drummers? I don’t know. Even the gossip press have tried to make it sound like Brandon and Ronnie are another Sting and Stewart, complete with nasty fights and feuds on and off stage, but who’s to know for sure? All I’ll say is basically they were the two that held my attention all night, though mostly independently. I noticed that there was basically no interaction between the band members on-stage the entire night, each of them very much doing their own thing. I think that might have been one element that kept me from being wholly engaged with their performance, as they didn’t seem especially engaged with each other on stage.


Brandon basically sticks to the songs to connect with the audience–there was very little between-song banter from him, but his theatrics, especially geared to the front of the audience in the pit, kept the crowd dancing and singing along throughout the show. At least the big hits, of course. There were plenty of folks around me who clearly only knew their popular tunes, and didn’t even seem to recognize “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” despite the rousing version of it played during the encore.

Brandon’s voice sounded good, if a little…high and thin compared to the way it sounds on record? Along with the great “Jenny”, highlights for me were “Change Your Mind”, “For Reasons Unknown”, “Mr. Brightside”, “All These Things I’ve Done”, and “Spaceman”. The only real disappointments were the somewhat changed-up/slowed-down version of “Smile Like You Mean It” (the only song that really varied from the recorded version, and not in an especially great way) and the finale of “When You Were Young”. WYWY is one of my absolute favorites of theirs, yet for whatever reason, it just didn’t pack a big punch at the end for me and seemed a bit anti-climactic.


The show was over a little before 11pm, at which point I made the mad dash to stand in the endless line for the ferry back across to Philly. Despite not loving the venue, I always find this ride home a nice end to a show – the cool breeze off the water and the night skyline of the city in the distance is a great way to chill out for a little while. The young kid on his cell phone next to me was from out of town and seemed to be having an interesting conversation with his girlfriend on the ride.

“Yeah, I’m on a boat…we just passed some kind of warship in the middle of the river…it smells like fish…I wish you were here.”

Now it’s the day after and I’m glad I got the chance to knock another band off my “want to see someday” list, although I’m not sure if The Killers are a group I’ll have to make a point to see again in the future.

A little update on my Bonnaroo quest…

First, a thank you to all my friends who have voted for me so far–it means a lot! I thought I’d take a moment to explain why I chose the picture I did for the contest instead of just pimping and promoting for more votes (although I’ll get to that in a bit.)

As I mentioned in the description, I took this picture at the final Police concert at Madison Square Garden on August 7, 2008. Was it the best concert I ever saw (or even best Police concert)? Musically, mmm, maybe not. I tend to think the band’s earlier performances, specifically Jones Beach Night 2 and Holmdel were absolutely the peak of intensity, musically. The band rocked it hard and tight at Holmdel, and then went completely batshit crazy at JB2.

But the magic of that final night–being there with all of my friends, my “family” of Nutters, Snarks, tpt’ers, xmissionites, and other crazy Police fans–was unforgettable. That I was there, at the front, against the barricade with so many of these friends (and able to see many of the rest of you in sections 119 and 111 waving your “Thank you” flags) was a musical (and more) moment that will never be matched in my mind.

And then there was the fact that so many of us were there thanks to Stewart, and his generosity in giving away all those tickets to the sc.netters. I didn’t get really emotional at any Police concert until that night, from knowing it was the end, from being there with everyone, for getting to experience something I never thought I’d have the chance to as a fan who had once believed a reunion tour was an impossible dream to hold on to, that I’d never get the chance to see my favorite band play live.

I could have chosen any number of photos from that night for the contest, but I chose this one because it encapsulates so much of what I love about Stewart — his passion for the music and the drums, the energy of his playing, and just that slight hint of lovable dorkiness (or “adorkability”, as some of my friends call it!)

Anyway, all that said, here’s that pimp once more. Want to help me get to Bonnaroo? Please just do the following:

Go here

Select the link for Group 4.

Scroll through the photos until on image 42, there’s a voting link (shortcut link here)

Vote for “Nicole P.”, ’cause that’s me!

Enter your email address.

Wait for an email from vote@radio1045.com with the subject “Please Verify your vote”, click on the link in that, and you’re good to go!

Thanks again for helping me out!

Help send me to Bonnaroo for free!

The following is crossposted from FanHistory’s Blog

OK, so this is sort of shameless self-promotion to get me a set of free passes with all travel/camping expenses paid, but if I make it to the Bonnaroo Music Festival this summer, I will happily take advantage of the opportunity to provide coverage of the event for FanHistory: the music, the fans, the scene, etc. It’s a great opportunity for us to help continue our coverage of bandom–not just who is popular now but who might be ready to make a breakthrough into wider popularity in the near future.

So, want to help me out? It will only take you a moment. Local Philadelphia radio station 104.5 is having a concert photo contest, and my entry made the final round for voting. Now it’s just a matter of getting the most votes from the viewing and listening public.

So if you have a minute to spare, go to the radio station website, then click on the link for the “Group 4” gallery. I’m image #41 in the set, but you have to browse through to the last image, #42, for the link to vote.

I am “Nicole P.”, the last choice on that ballot.

After you vote, make sure you respond to the email they send you to verify the vote is coming from a real email account.

Here is my pic for your enjoyment as well–Stewart Copeland in action at Madison Square Garden at the final Police concert.

Voting ends May 10. Thanks in advance for your support!