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Killer Instinct

It is a fair bet that a large number of you are fans of The Killers. Maybe you’ve got tickets for their shows at the end of the year. Immediate Discloser – I am a big fan and went to see them at Wembley Stadium in 2013.

A recent tweet asked why so many Duran fans are Killers fans. I thought this must be obvious. With the proviso that this is a list based upon the Killers’ history rather than recent achievements, these are some factors that will have struck a chord with many:

They have written great songs. They mix electronica with guitars. They are a ‘new’ band it’s easy to like, giving us a personal warm glow for not being stuck with 80s bands. They are not Snow Patrol. They have a lead signer who is easy on the eye for the laydeez and a grizzled guitarist for the boyz. They themselves like Duran.

And they are the Duran Duran of the 21st Century. Consider the following as a massively condensed Duran career:

Album number 1 (Hot Fuss) blasts out in 2005 with (ahem) killer hooks and singalonga tunes (Somebody Told Me, Mr Brightside, All These Things That I’ve Done).

Album 2 (Sam’s Town, 2006) follows hot on its heels and shakes up the system with hefty guitar and strong hits (When You Were Young, Read My Mind) with a strong depth to the non-singles (Bling, My List).

Then there’s a curiously quick ‘mopping up’ album (Sawdust, 2007) of b-sides and extras which immediately hints all is not well.

Album 3 (Day And Age) doesn’t show until the end of 2008 and musically struggles to find an identity and – most crucially – contains only one hit (Human). Just when this band should be hitting their stride, it all goes awfully quiet. Album 4 (Battleborn) takes until 2012 to arrive, managing a Liberty-esque one week in the UK chart. Ouch. Not only that, but the album was horrible, with the band mostly slipping into dull country-rock that lacked all the dash and verve of the first two albums.

By now it was only a matter of time before the Greatest Hits showed up and it did so in 2013. Like Decade, it tried to capitalise on the love that existed for the band, and to make up for the last commercial dud. Unlike Decade, this was not used as a launch pad for new music. Instead, Brandon Flowers released his second solo album in 2015, which sounded (unsurprisingly) Killers-lite. [Bizarely, as I type, Still Want You has randomly turned up on Spotify. It’s easy to like and is better than most of Battleborn].

Now here they are in 2017, 13 years into a career which features only 4 albums. They have sold out their UK tour in minutes but on what basis have these tickets been sold? The new album will almost certainly be average (and unsold). Even the previous two albums (from nearly 10 years ago now!) won’t have been bought by most of those people.

It’s obvious why they are going – to hear the hits. And they will be entertained. ‘Cos the Killers will be playing Mr Brightside until the very end of their days. Can they find inspiration in a new big hit or musical direction? A quick glance at their 80s counterparts suggests the road will be long and hard.

If you’re going this year (or next – they will be touring for years to come) you will politely applaud the new stuff for the first 20 minutes and grudgingly accept that this is the price of getting to the amazing second half of the show. And you may realise that you are acting out the part of the thousands that you and I have put up with over the years at a Duran show. So please – speaking as one who failed to get a ticket cos I took 10 minutes too long - do the decent thing, buy the new album and give it a go at enjoying the whole thing.


That may have ended things on a sour note, so I direct you to a superb live DVD (with live CD as a bonus) from 2009.

Here's my favourite from the DVD:

And also how you can not want to see this:

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