The Killers, Echo and The Bunnymen, Howling Bells, The Kooks, Metric
Miss Fliss 26/06/2009
What a bonus it was to have Echo and the Bunnymen announced on the bill for The Killers' Hard Rock Calling festival gig. They covered up the racket of The Kooks on the main stage in blissful style. There's an elegance and a sadness to the Bunnymen's music that I think was lost on the audeince that seemed largely alien to the classic 80s band. The gig had sold out with only The Killers' name branded on the event too, so all other bands were mere sidetracks for the sole attraction. But I for one (and I did feel fairly alone) cherished Echo and the Bunnymen's set.
I must say, it felt pretty holy when the band walked on stage. Church organ music swirled to the heavens, and then four dark stark figures appeared in the fashion of disciples. They appeared from the wings all at once, rather than stepping out one by one as bands tend to do. It took three songs (Rescue, Villiers Terrace, and Seven Seas AKA the Cod Liver Oil Song) before things started driving with force.
Nothing Lasts For ever twinkled and made me ache as it ever did. The way it segued seamlessly into an acoustic cover of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side was a thing of much joy.
The crowd was sparse, failed to fill the indoor festival tent, and from middle to back people were stationary and disinterested, and lots of people wandered in and out within a couple of minutes, which all made me sad. The band themselves can't have felt too hot, considering they are the longer lived band and more prolific with it, it was all abit second fiddle. Perhaps this all contributed to Ian McCulloch's foul mood (oh, hang on, he's famed for that) but it was not long before he tore into the sound guy for apparently mucking up Killing Moon. He hissed and muttered before ordering the man to "sod off". Had to chuckle at that. But then I was aghast as he cut the song 30 seconds in and angrily announced that they'd play The Cutter instead. Even the way Ian sang the word cutter was fierce - with emphasis on the er sound becoming 'Spare us the CuttAAARRR!'.
After this strange interval, Ian was prepared to play Killing Moon, doing the poetic verse beautiful justice. I wished we were outside and able to espy a sky all hung with jewels. I briefly remembered beign 14 and stealing the particularly gothic lyrics for an Edgar Allan Poe pastiche (oh dear).
There was a muttered tribute to Michael Jackson which got some jibe or other from the audience, to which McCulloch tore into the audience member and told them emphatically that Jackson might have been a "tit head" but that he was "a great" and that they'd never understand or deserve such genius. No Jacko cover - that could have been interesting. I'd love to see McCulloch moonwalk too, haha!
Lips Like Sugar closed the concise set. If only they'd played on into the night, it could have been magical, purple lights and sparkling majestic songs. I enjoyed them as if they were headlining rather than The Killers. I can now apprciate how The Killers' have borrowed inspiration from them too.
'The festival Gods are smiling down upon us,' Brandon Flowers said, announcing The Killers' arrival and making allusion to the hold of dry warm weather. The early afternoon had been a chaos of thunder and tropical rain and I'd had my fears about leaving my front door, let alone attending an all day festival. The electro pop luxury of Human was delivered right off to immense reaction, proving that here is a band whose newest material stands proudly on par with the early hits that propelled their fame.
It was clear that everyone was here for The Killers and the day had been leading up to this: the errupting of impassioned sing alongs, sozzled swaying, ferocious dancing, all of us in the knowledge that few bands can make music that rings with such melody and resonates so much as to cause an absolute fever of celebration. The emotion it was electric and the stars they all align, as Brandon failed to sing tonight.
A hit single set list, not a complaint could be made from the masses congregated on Hyde Park today. My only gripe would be the sheer oddness of a band so obviously affected by the 80s could make not a single mention of the day's Michael Jackson news. I was fully expecting a synth-brilliant cover version. I would also have liked to have heard a lot more songs from Day and Age. But A Dustland Fairytale was as big as the sky. Ah, the sky. Being in the wide open of a London field with pink and purple fluffy clouds floating across the setting sun was a very special experience. And as the sky got as deep purple as the parade of strobing stage lights and as celebratory as the glittering explosions on stage, the music only sounded more magic. From Mr Brightside to All These Things that I've Done you couldn't stop my heels leaping for the sky. Heady on free wine samples (thank you Black Tower!), it was time to dance like my life depended on it.
When You Were Young was an explosive closer. There was a little kid of about 8 years throwing his small frame into all sorts of crazy shapes, smiling and giggling himself silly; very obviously ridiculously thrilled to be alive and in this experience, and he summed the mood up to cute perfection. And The Killers are a very important band indeed.