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Miscellaneous - Killers 'Live from the Artists Den'

  by Owen Peters

published: 8 / 12 / 2014

Miscellaneous - Killers 'Live from the Artists Den'


In the second in his new series 'TV Music Memories', in which he looks at television music programmes, Owen Peters watches a Killers concert film and interview, which was first shown in 2013 on the Sky Arts channel

Sometimes a band comes to a point in their journey where they pause, take a breath, and look back to when pressure wasn’t even on their agenda. Then they look forward again to when their next album, or in this case next gig is a requirement to perform. The year is 2012, location Capitale in New York, and the band the Killers. This is season one, episode one of 'Live from the Artists Den' available on Sky Arts. Killers front man Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr (drums and percussion) are in conversation with an unseen interviewer. Remaining band members, guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer, don’t make an interview appearance. Flowers is dressed in his uniform black attire. A clean, neat, tidy all American boy. His daily dose of gym work, vitamins and body scrub are unable to hide his nervous disposition for the camera. Vannucci is the polar opposite. He wears a blue T-shirt which could fit someone else two sizes bigger. His beard and hair are on a mission of their own looking for an exit route, and he is packing a bit of timber (that’s a weight related term for the uninitiated). He portrays relaxed. I want to hear him say “Yeah man” or “Cool” or “Yo dude”, but there is no such luck. In 2001 the Killers were playing bars in Las Vegas, then more bars, then more bars. They weren't an instant success. Demo tapes were sent to major record labels with more hope than strategy. They developed a small but loyal fan base and continued playing bars and small venues. Warner Brother representatives came along, took a glimpse, and decided not to pursue any further interest. The gambling gauntlet was taken up by Niall Norbury who took some of the band's tracks to his friend Ben Durling who worked for UK indie label Lizard King Records. In July 2003 the Killers signed with them. In autumn of 2004 they released their debut album 'Hot Fuss' with Lizard King Records and Island Records in the US. They were on their way. The rest as they say is rock and roll. Fans of a certain age span have grown up and alongside the Killers. During their ten year journey they have released four studio albums to date. The latest 'Battle Born' (named after the Flag of Nevada) is showcased and discussed here as part of 'The Artists Den'. Just as the band paused to reflect, let's do the same and remind ourselves what was happening in 2012. Costa Concordia runs aground near Isala de Giglio, Italy killing 15 passengers and crew. The Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne. Fabrice Muamba suffers a cardiac arrest whilst playing for Bolton against Tottenham Hotspur. Malala Yousafzai is shot by Taliban gunmen in Swat, Pakistan. At last The London Olympic Games begin, with some people not leaving their homes for a month! Rutherford, Ennis and Farah become gold medal winners, etching themselves forever in the UK psyche. Finally, Dave Brubeck, Etta James, Ravi Shankar pass on, leaving wonderful memories of their wonderful tunes. Astronaut Neil Armstrong makes a final “giant leap” shedding his mortal coil. Over six hundred invited guests pack into what was the original Bowery Savings Bank to see the Killers. Designed by Stanford White, it required three hundred workers over a two year period 1893 - 1895 to complete. Many of the workers were Italian who decided to put down roots which resulted in the founding of New York's “Little Italy”. Stanford’s Italian Renaissance design is adorned with Corinthian columns, a marble mosaic floor and a 65 foot ceiling captured in numerous roaming camera shots during the concert. He designed it on a similar theme to churches in Italy. At the time churches were seen as a bastion of strength and honesty. Many banks copied the idea, some of which remain for public viewing today. The Killers open up with 'Runaways' from the new album 'Battle Born'. It’s the template we’ve come to expect over the years. Flowers sets up the storyline, a couple happy in days gone by, now all they want to do is run away. In comes heavy percussion, symbols gate crashing the quiet zone. Fans know their beloved music is in safe hands. 'Miss Atomic Bomb' exemplifies how good Flowwers' lyrics are. A story to be told, here it's innocence, youth and backseat sex. The excellent pacing by Vannucci’s percussion in tone and volume allow comparisons to be made with Springsteen and Jackson Browne. Cutting back to the interview, they constantly refer with unnerving repetition to a need to perform well. “Songs which were delivered 10 years ago are still judged by audience expectations today,” says Vannucci sounding as if they’re not sure if they can complete the task ahead. Production and editorial cut makes sense as next up is 'Human' It’s festival time all over again. Flowers asks the question “Are we human or are we dancers?” Raised hands, sing along. By the looks of the audience they are certainly...dancers. Great track, great performance. “It started with a kiss/They’re going to bed/He takes off her dress.” There’s no reason this can’t tip over the passionate edge, entering a pseudo punk tunnel. 'Mr.Brightside' is anger, rage, fear with its jealousy, insecurities at a testosterone high. It could become an uncontrolled mess of an arrangement. Instead the Killers make its outcome one of someone who doesn’t know what to do. Oh, and still keep the dancers dancing. That’s a skill. The one major audience interaction Flowers has with the gathered six hundred is as follows: “When we were starting off playing in Las Vegas I was working in a casino (Audience cheers). Throughout the day I would have words, tunes in my head. In the evenings I would ring Dave Kuening, leave him a message. 'You know, you gotta help me out. Don’t put me on the back burner'(More audience cheers). These days it goes something like this”. Flowers never lets up on his energy levels as the band starts playing 'All The Things That I’ve Done'. “How we doing?” he asks tentatively at the end. The audience roar back a cheer of approval. They close with 'Flesh and Bone', one more from 'Battle Born'. This is one of their more reserved concoctions, the main hook being a military type repeating of "Flesh and Bone", coupled with a mix of guitar riffs and synth mixing. If you're new to the Killers, or want a potted history on their background, back catalogue of selected anthems, this is probably a good way to spent an hour or so. In fact it is a very good way to spend sixty minutes.

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