Surviving The Killers

Teodoro Jose Joaquin
US rock band fulfills long-awaited Manila gig

HOT FUSS. The Killers were here. Photo from the band’s Facebook

(Editor’s Note: This piece is updated as of October 3, 2013, 7pm, in response to the comments below.)

MANILA, Philippines – The clean-cut, well-gelled Brandon Flowers of The Killers may be one of the thinnest rock vocalists these days but, for sure, his voice is among the most powerful.

On a promotional tour for their “Battle Born” album, The Killers shook the Smart Araneta Coliseum with their musical overdrive for about two hours, giving the month of September a rocking close.

Flowers’ voice was never drowned out by the loud guitars and screams from the audience. Even first-timers would understand what he’s singing in the 21 songs he and the band performed.

The Las Vegas-bred and honed rocker came with lead guitarist Dave Keuning and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. Missing in action was original bassist Mark Stoermer.

A big surprise of the night was another session guitarist, Theodore Williams, the name Flowers mentioned when he presented Ted Sablay as someone with Filipino lineage.

“He’s a guy we need to bring along everywhere we go. His father hails from Pam-pang-ga province,” Flowers said.

The Killers started their set with their biggest hit, “Mr. Brightside,” a song Flowers composed for an ex-girlfriend who cheated on him.

Being the debut single from their first album “Hot Fuss” (2004), “Mr. Brightside” was one of those associated with the past decade, or what some music purists describe as “the emo generation” – still a topical phrase, actually.

With its period piece-inspired music video starring actor Eric Roberts (brother of Julia), the single won for the group the MTV Best New Artist in a Video Award in 2005. On YouTube it has more than 65 million hits.

Here are The Killers with ‘Mr. Brightside’:

They followed that up with the equally danceable hit “Spaceman,” a song about suicide. The 3rd number was the breakup song, from “Battle Born,” “The Way It Was.”

We stopped jotting down the titles when they played “Smile Like You Mean It,” another old hit from the “emo decade.”

Flowers surprised the Filipino audience when he spoke a few Tagalog words.

“Sa wakas [finally], The Killers are here. Thank you for not giving up on us,” he said after the first 3 songs.

The band was originally scheduled to perform in Manila in 2010, but rumors of a hiatus or a breakup, Flowers’ releasing a solo album, and various other reasons postponed indefinitely the “Day and Age” album promo tour.

As Flowers did an intro spiel for “A Dustland Fairytale,” a very personal composition that speaks of his childhood (he being a native of Nevada deserts and dust lands), he said the Filipinos’ motto is “MakaDios, Makatao, Makakalikasan, and Makabayan.”

“I’m from Las Vegas and you know that our motto is…what happens in Vegas,” he told the crowd, stopping in midsentence and letting the crowd finish it.

Joy Division, Tiffany

It was all sing-and-dance-along from hereon as they performed earlier hits like “Human,” “Somebody Told Me,” “Read My Mind,” and “All the Things That I’ve Done.”

They also did versions of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” and “I Think We’re Alone Now,” the version by 1980s pop star Tiffany that Flowers cited in the concert.

Delighting the younger fans who have been following them only in recent years, they sang the hits “Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb” from “Battle Born.”

The bonus number was “When We Were Young.”

The audience kept asking for more but the band had a killer schedule and they had to call it a night.

The “Battle Born” tour moves on to Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, and Dubai. –

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