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The Killers review, Glastonbury: Las Vegas rock band dip into flat-pack euphoria on the Pyramid Stage

The Killers review, Glastonbury: Las Vegas rock band dip into flat-pack euphoria on the Pyramid Stage

The blandest of this year’s Glastonbury headliners, The Killers may also be the best qualified. Stormzy was, until yesterday, untested at this level, and The Cure’s marathon sets sometimes meander. But nobody could deny the Las Vegas titans’ credentials to pull it off – indeed, they already did, way back in 2007, albeit in a set addled by technical difficulties. 

If there is a drawback, it’s a matter of character. The Killers are such an archetypal stadium band, so emblematic of the bankable festival band, that it is sometimes hard to believe they are a real band. Brandon Flowers, who has the sort of charisma you would programme into an android concierge, enhances the sense of uncanny. His waxwork smile can’t decide whether to sell you a car or a chorus, and he reliably announces, with corporate pizzazz, the band’s catchphrase: “We’re the Killers, brought to you by way of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!” It’s weird, and weirdly magnetic. Tonight, the crowd bellows it along with him. 

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rightCreated with Sketch.

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A woman dances with LED hula hoops on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

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Revellers enjoy the bonfire and fireworks in the Sacred Space at the end of the first day of Glastonbury Festival

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Festival goers warm up prior to the gates opening at 8am on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

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Festival-goer Penelope Gwen dances with LED hula hoops on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

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A man wears an LED face mask on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

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Festival goer Jo stands among a tree feature as she arrives on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

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A festival goer drinks from a beer bong prior to the gates opening at 8am on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

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A man in a pig onesie receives his wristband for the weekend as the gates open at Glastonbury 2019

Adam Gray / SWNS

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A collaboration billboard between Led By Donkeys and Cold War Steve is unveiled at the top of the park on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

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A man carts a wheelbarrow full of provisions for the weekend as he arrives at Glastonbury 2019

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Festival founder Michael Eavis takes a selfie with a festival goer as he greets arrivals to Glastonbury 2019

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A woman dances with LED hula hoops on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

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Tents at the campsite on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

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A man arrives armed with his ReadyBed on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

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Festival goer Glammy Glitter wears her bejewelled Glastonbury hat as she arrives at the festival

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Arrivals cart their provisions for the weekend to their campsites on the first day of the festival

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England fans watch on at Glastonbury

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Sarah Adey and Jack Watney marry at Glastonbury on Thursday 27 June 2019

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Festival goers eat ice-cream during the Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, Britain, 27 June 2019.

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A reveller stands proudly so people can admire his colourful headgear

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An overview of the scenes at Worthy Farm on Thursday 27 June, 2019

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Sheryl Crow serenades the crowds on a sun-soaked day at Worthy Farm on day three of Glastonbury

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George Ezra performs

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Bastille frontman Dan Smith performs on the Pyramid Stage

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Festival-goers watch Bastille perform at Glastonbury 2019

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Bastille frontman Dan Smith performs on the Pyramid Stage

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A festival-goer takes a drink in the West Holts area

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Crowds gather to watch Stormzy perform on the Pyramid Stage

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Stormzy performs in the headline slot on the Pyramid Stage on day three of Glastonbury

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Arcadia unveil their new stage design ‘Pangea’ during day three of Glastonbury

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Arcadia’s new stage design, Pangea, at Glastonbury Festival 2019

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A festival-goer carries an illuminated umbrella through the Arcadia area

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Reuters

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A woman dances with LED hula hoops on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

PA

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Revellers enjoy the bonfire and fireworks in the Sacred Space at the end of the first day of Glastonbury Festival

Getty

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Festival goers warm up prior to the gates opening at 8am on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

Adam Gray / SWNS

5/58

Festival-goer Penelope Gwen dances with LED hula hoops on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

PA

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A man wears an LED face mask on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

PA

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Festival goer Jo stands among a tree feature as she arrives on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

Getty

8/58

A festival goer drinks from a beer bong prior to the gates opening at 8am on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

Tom Wren / SWNS

9/58

A man in a pig onesie receives his wristband for the weekend as the gates open at Glastonbury 2019

Adam Gray / SWNS

10/58

A collaboration billboard between Led By Donkeys and Cold War Steve is unveiled at the top of the park on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

PA

11/58

A man carts a wheelbarrow full of provisions for the weekend as he arrives at Glastonbury 2019

PA

12/58

Festival founder Michael Eavis takes a selfie with a festival goer as he greets arrivals to Glastonbury 2019

Reuters

13/58

A woman dances with LED hula hoops on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

PA

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Tents at the campsite on the second day of Glastonbury Festival

PA

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A man arrives armed with his ReadyBed on the first day of Glastonbury 2019

PA

16/58

Festival goer Glammy Glitter wears her bejewelled Glastonbury hat as she arrives at the festival

Getty

17/58

Arrivals cart their provisions for the weekend to their campsites on the first day of the festival

Tom Wren / SWNS

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REUTERS

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Getty Images

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AFP

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PA

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England fans watch on at Glastonbury

Getty

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PA

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Sarah Adey and Jack Watney marry at Glastonbury on Thursday 27 June 2019

SWNS

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Festival goers eat ice-cream during the Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, Britain, 27 June 2019.

EPA

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AFP/Getty Images

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A reveller stands proudly so people can admire his colourful headgear

Getty

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Getty

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An overview of the scenes at Worthy Farm on Thursday 27 June, 2019

Getty

46/58

Sheryl Crow serenades the crowds on a sun-soaked day at Worthy Farm on day three of Glastonbury

Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

47/58

George Ezra performs

PA

48/58

Bastille frontman Dan Smith performs on the Pyramid Stage

Grant Pollard/Invision/AP

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Festival-goers watch Bastille perform at Glastonbury 2019

REUTERS

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Bastille frontman Dan Smith performs on the Pyramid Stage

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

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A festival-goer takes a drink in the West Holts area

AFP/Getty Images

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Crowds gather to watch Stormzy perform on the Pyramid Stage

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

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Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

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WireImage

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Stormzy performs in the headline slot on the Pyramid Stage on day three of Glastonbury

Getty

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Arcadia unveil their new stage design ‘Pangea’ during day three of Glastonbury

Getty Images

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Arcadia’s new stage design, Pangea, at Glastonbury Festival 2019

PA

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A festival-goer carries an illuminated umbrella through the Arcadia area

AFP/Getty Images

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Acutely aware of the role nostalgia plays in their viability as headliners, the band open with “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”, a fan favourite from Hot Fuss. Flowers wears an embroidered, cowboy dinner jacket and high waisted satin trousers. “There’s a lot of great bands, but thanks for betting on us,” he tells the crowd. “I’ve got a feeling it’s about to pay off.” He is smug, outrageous and unfeasibly camp, but when he dives into “Somebody Told Me”, his showman bravado is untouchable.

To the degree that a great festival set is about meting out serotonin, the group – now missing founding guitarist Dave Kuening and bassist Mark Stoermer – hit the mark. Hot Fuss was a fine album, but each burst of joy is now super-concentrated, so that a mid-tier song such as “Smile Like You Mean It” takes on epic proportions. The synth-powered heartland rock of their second album, Sam’s Town, was called overblown on its release, but is now their default setting, and it mostly works. Their latter singles tick the boxes, but there are too many in a row and they dip into flat-pack euphoria. Even Flowers’s dedication to his late mother, the sweet “A Dustland Fairytale”, descends into an anonymous finale. 

The encore, in fairness, veers leftfield. First, several men in reflective jackets come on to sweep the stage and tap the mics – one of whom, bizarrely, turns out to be Jimmy Carr. When The Killers emerge, they’re joined by a pair of special guests that draw blank looks from the surprisingly large teen contingent. But when Neil Tennant belts out “Always on My Mind”, everyone sings. The Pet Shop Boys stick around for a duet on “Human”, before Flowers heralds another guest. Johnny Marr slinks on-stage, “This Charming Man” rings out, and everyone goes nuts. “Mr Brightside”, the irreplaceable set closer, for once has competition for the set highlight. 

For the duration of their set, the lines had blurred between rapture and cringe. The Killers are now so famous that – despite a gargantuan casual listenership and enduring dominion over party playlists and karaoke booths – few people really have the energy to love or hate them. As the packed crowd poured out, they had the sated looks of the entertained. Some sets are made for the history books; this one was happy to put a smile on your face, if only for one night. 

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