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29th August at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh, wasn’t just any other night. Cloudy skies, occasional streaks of golden sunshine, and an atmosphere so electric, it could have powered the entire city. The Killers, Las Vegas’ enigmatic rock icons, graced Scotland’s capital for the very first time.
The grounds of the famous showgrounds, usually the epicentre for agricultural shows, transformed into an ocean of eager fans. The anticipation was palpable, the excitement infectious. People knew they were about to witness something very special, and the weather, with its intermittent sunbeams piercing the grey, seemed to echo that sentiment.
Adding gravitas to the evenings lineup was none other than Johnny Marr, the iconic Mancunian guitarist whose riffs have played backdrop to many a coming-of-age story. Ever the epitome of cool, Marr’s unique skills with the guitar are on full view: theres no bravado, no unnecessary flourishes, only a master at work. Marrs set was a thrilling blend of his solo efforts and Smiths classics, delivered expertly by the seasoned veteran.
Fan-favourites Bigmouth Strikes Again, Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want, and How Soon Is Now? are warmly received by fans, and a true moment of poignancy came when he dedicated his performance of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" to the late Andy Rourke, his former bandmate, the air was thick with emotion, and it was a tribute that captured hearts, if not tears.
But the crowd had little time to ponder as the atmosphere was set alight by the entrance of The Killers. A ripple of frenetic energy swept across the arena when the Las Vegas quartet took the stage. Frontman Brandon Flowers, donning a sparkling jacket and his trademark grin, wasted no time as they broke into a stirring rendition of "Mr. Brightside", taking every single soul on a rollercoaster of nostalgia and euphoria.
The tribute to their roots came with the electrifying "Somebody Told Me," reminding everyone of their Vegas heritage with the unmistakable sound that had dominated charts and rocked festivals, but it was their moving cover of "Whole of the Moon" that made the night distinctly Scottish, a nod to Edinburghs rich musical tapestry and a gesture that was met with thunderous applause and collective crooning from the audience; and such is the magic of The Killers, they possess this uncanny ability to take another bands song and effortlessly make it their own, blending it seamlessly into the unique vibe of their show.
While the set was a balanced act of old favourites like "Human" and "Runaways," with newer gems from their latest album, the surprise of the evening was still to come. During the encore, Johnny Marr returned to the stage, if the atmosphere was electric before, it was positively atomic now.
Together, they delved into "This Charming Man," a classic that felt incredibly pertinent in the presence of two of rocks most charming men, as if that wasnt enough they transitioned into "When You Were Young," melding their distinct styles into a seamless, transcendent musical experience.
As the night drew to a close with the resonant echo of the last chords, one thing was clear: The Killers and Johnny Marr had not just performed; they had created an experience, a memory, a story, theyd given something to Edinburgh that the city—and everyone in attendance—would treasure. So as Flowers sang "Smile Like You Mean It," it was evident that every smile in the Royal Highland Centre was as genuine as they come.
All in all, a groundbreaking evening for The Killers, and a musical pilgrimage for the fans who had yearned to see them perform in Edinburgh. In retrospect, the only question left unanswered was: when will The Killers grace Edinburgh again? because, after a night like that, once just isnt enough.
Review by Fraser Doig.
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