Peace breaks out at the Phoenix Park as smiling Killers get rapturous welcome
Heavy Garda presence ensured no repeat of last year’s violence
Brandon Flowers: clean-cut but awesomely energetic
Fans of Mumford & Sons in the Phoenix Park on Sunday evening. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Smile Like You Mean It. The title of one of the Killers hits pretty much summed up Saturday night’s concert in the Phoenix Park, the second in a trilogy of gigs.
Everyone was beaming: the streams of 30-somethings heading in from 5pm; the security who encouraged everyone to enjoy the show after being searched; cheery gardaí who lined Chesterfield Avenue, the field itself and the bridge at Heuston station in noticeably large numbers; the stewards; the medics; the bar staff – everyone was in chipper form.
Then there was Brandon Flowers, the frontman of the Killers who smiled so hard you could practically see his gleaming all-American dental work from the zoo.
The evening began with Californian band Haim who are drumming up a wide fanbase ahead of their debut album release. As Northerners Two Door Cinema Club flew expertly through their canon of hits, they were as gracious as ever, persistently thanking the crowd for showing up early to see them, and happy to be the “local flavour”.
They got some big cheers, but before the Killers came on, most of the crowd petering through the gates were largely disengaged from the music, instead lounging on the grass, checking out food options dominated by burgers or queuing for the bar. Until the headliners arrived, you could easily stroll right to the front of the crowd.
Before that was the debut Irish performance from R ‘n’ B singer Frank Ocean. Ocean’s set was sparse, nuanced and sedate. He complained about the sound level being too low, and it was nudged up a tad.
An act that would probably cause a feverish response in a smaller venue was met mostly with indifference aside from a small portion of the audience pushing towards the stage to hear brilliant tracks such as Novacane, Super Rich Kids, Pyramids and the stunning Thinking About You.
Them the crowd transformed from calm to ecstatic. Somebody Told Me blasted out, with Flowers exclaiming “Baile Atha Cliath!” to a rapturous welcome.
The Killers are a band who started out to become New Order and ended up as Springsteen-lite. There’s a marked difference between their nostalgic American-dream type material and the grittier Hot Fuss, an album that’s nearly 10 years old.
The clean-cut Flowers has an image somewhere between Tom Cruise and an up-and-coming Republican senator. He is every inch a showman, sometimes cheesy – a turgid cover of I Think We’re Alone Now and an ill-advised segment of Pride (In The Name Of Love) – but awesomely energetic.
His delight at the crowd’s reaction never once waned.
As as fireworks took over from poor visuals and All These Things That I’ve Done and Mr Brightside blasted out, the refrain rang all the way home: “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier . . . ”