Show Review: The Killers, The New York Dolls and The Nervous Wreckords at Shoreline Amphitheater, 9/12/09

by Tony Butterworth on September 13, 2009


A wild swarm attacks The Killers?

A wild swarm attacks The Killers?

There’s a rumor going around that I’m too old for concerts. Well it’s not true, the concerts are fine, it’s the driving there and back that I’m too old for.  Well today I ventured out to that rare event, for me anyway, a stadium show featuring The Killers and, what tipped the scales for my attendance, The New York Dolls.

The show took place at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.  One of those purpose built outdoor venues with seats and a lawn, not really the place to see too many bands but, for me, The Killers are one band that could do such a venue justice.

The show opened with a surprise, support act The Nervous Wreckords.  It was a surprise because they were not advertised and also because they were pretty good.  It’s an awful position, unknown opening act at a large venue for a major band, but they did well enough for me to plan to check them out soon, especially one song, which I assume was called “Josephine.”

The New York Dolls and I have a strange relationship.  I liked them in theory as a kid, though I didn’t really know their music well, it was more the image.  Then over the years I’ve picked up their tunes and always like them when I hear them but rarely search them out.  However, the fact that they were on this bill is why I attended, not because I don’t like The Killers but because the chance to see both (for only $20) could not be passed up.

The Dolls put on a great show, though they were not well received by the fans, except in some small pockets, but they carried on as if this was a headlining show in their heyday.  Full of musical and showmanship cliche’s, they were just downright fun.  David Johannsen has almost completely turned into Mick Jagger at this point.  Great loud, simple rock music.  I’m terrible with song names but they played 11 songs over a full 45 minutes including stuff from their recent album Cause I Sez So.  I am so glad I saw them (and I can tell my brother who loved them way more than me and has never had the chance), and I highly recommend searching them out if you get the opportunity.

I just can’t understand why it’s not cool to like The Killers.  Other than the crime of being popular I’m not sure what they’ve done wrong.  They are real musicians, they pay homage to their peers, they seem honest with the fans, and yet somehow I fear admitting I like them to my muso friends.  I have to say that, if forced to pick one, I would have to choose The Killers as my current favorite band.  Many others pop up for brief periods but The Killers are the only recent band that I consistently return to listening to. They’ve released three full albums and I believe that I like every single song.  I did however have some fear about attending the show (not as much fear as my other hero Jarvis Cocker where I decided not to go after reading terrible reviews), I have seen The Killers live on TV and had, at one time, classified singer Brandon Flowers as not a good live singer, tonight I would find out.

The songs they played are listed below but it’s simply amazing to me how many songs they have that EVERYONE knows, considering they have only released just the three albums.  They played twenty songs and yet still missed what many might consider their favorites.  My fears were allayed as Mr .Flowers proved to be a great singer and showman.  The rest of the band, augmented by a couple of multi-instrumentalists in support, don’t attempt to grab the spotlight, it really is the Brandon Flowers show and he takes it and runs with it.   The songs have this strange but wonderful combination of danceability, singability and fist-pumping concert power that was fantastic and pretty rare in the current generation of bands.

The show set was fun also, a large stage with a video backdrop split into sections that was used to show movies, the band on stage, and for lights.

I loved the show and I can’t pick a favorite moment (other than perhaps this kid borrowing my pencil to unblock his hash pipe), and I’m so happy that I attended. Perhaps my only complaint would be the somewhat business like nature of the performance, but with these songs and these kinds of shows I think that’s to be expected. Really the The Killers could not fail, they make the kind of music I love, and they perform with honesty and style, my only regret is not getting the chance to see them in a more intimate venue.

The setlist:

Reasons Unknown
Change Your Mind
Shadowplay (A Joy Division cover)
Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (a Nina Simone/Animals cover)
Somebody Told Me
Smile Like You Mean It
Losing Touch
Believe Me Natalie
Dustland Fairytale
Can’t Help Falling in Love (yes an Elvis cover)
Read My Mind
Mr Brightside
All These Things
Jenny Was A Friend of Mine
When We Were Young

Thanks to Flickr user Xiozhuli for sharing the photo

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelsey September 13, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Thanks for the review! There aren’t many out there for this show. Glad you enjoyed The Killers live as much as I do! Lucky duck, you got Losing Touch…


pilar September 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm

i was there and i loved it. at first i thought david j was mick j. but then he didnt move very much like mick j so i knew i was wrong. the rest of the band was very tight and seemed to really enjoy what they were doing. The killers worked hard straight through for almost 2 hours and the entire sold out crowd was on their feet the whole time. i saw kids from 7 years to over 70 years. i think that is pretty cool.


Jbtrain September 14, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Thank you for writing such a great recap. They are so ‘well-rounded’ as are their fans, but I wholly agree with you…why aren’t there more of us??? I guess if there’s only a couple million of us that I have to share them with, more tickets available to me. If I had to find a ‘brightside’.


Scott September 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Honestly, the New York Dolls were mostly just painful–and I’m 54 years old (I took my 15 year old son to his first concert), old enough to appreciate them if there was anything to appreciate. They supposedly have a history, but it didn’t show for much on Saturday night. I liked the Killers. I had heard some of their stuff. The energy was incredible and, yes, Flowers is the show though of course he doesn’t do it alone. Their lyrics are a little too often of the don’t-listen-too-closely-because-they-don’t-make-sense kind, but, hey the Beatles were sometimes that way too. Again, I don’t the Killers are bound for “greatness,” but all in all, a pretty good show.


laura September 15, 2009 at 10:03 pm

ya know i loved the whole show.
i was the only one of my group that was looking forward to seeing the new yoyk dolls. my family has one of their albums and a documentary about them. i also know that the clash really loved them and i really love the clash. anyway i was not dissapointed with their preformance at all, although i was dissappointed at the reaction from the audience.
and as for the killers, they were incredible. i would definately say that they are my favorite band. i have liked all of their albums so far, and they are wonderful preformers. i was so glad to be able to go, and for only 20$. anyway, the show was fantastic.


Javier September 24, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Hey great recap of the show. I agree about the business feel of the Killers’ performance, I don’t know why they stopped after every song. There really wasn’t any flow to the show. This was my 3rd time seeing them and it was the most disappointing. Not faulting the Killers, but the crowd. This was such a random crowd. It felt as they were not even into the show. Like the previous person posted 15 and 54 year olds, this is not a rock concert crowd. I hardly saw any 20-30 year olds and even less hot looking fans. The Killers deserve better. I deserve better.


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