Love at First Gig: The Killers Live in Manila

Two months ago, the closest encounter I have with the Killers is their album being near Kasabian’s in a music store rack.

Closest encounter with the Killers until two months ago

I thought of them as a Vegas spinoff of The Strokes. I don’t know where I got that idea, but I kept it for a long time.
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But since the Killers will be playing in Manila, I got interested in what these scruffy dudes (save for their sleek-looking frontman who always wears a slim fit polo) actually has to offer. I looked up the setlist of their ongoing tour and plugged my earphones on.

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I actually liked what I hear. In fact, I liked it so much that I thought maybe I should go to the concert just to hear them play “The Way it Was”. I even put the setlist on loop, trying to learn the songs, thinking it would be great to sing along to them live. But the cost of tickets are way too high, so I asked my ever rational Tumblr friends whether or not I should go to the concert. I received five replies, all positive, most of them also commenting on how amazing the band is during shows. The deal breaker though is when I found out through Wikipedia that one of the band’s influences is Oasis (yes, it’s shallow, but I love that band to death).

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Sandwich opened for them and they were amazing. I have seen them play when I was in the university, and they always have a high level of energy–be it a headliner, a small venue, or a front act. These guys are some of the heroes of Filipino music.

It took a long interval between Sandwich’s front act and the Killers to come onstage. Two men were pushing something towards the center edge of the stage and I think I already knew what it was. He signaled the crowd to count to three, and when he pulled away the cover–it was indeed the Battle Born lightning bolt in the trademark Killers dots!

Just unveiled! The Killers’ lightning bolt that they used to conceal Brandon’s keyboard

The show hasn’t officially started, but people were already screaming.

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The backdrop their Battle Born album cover. People are still pouring in, and the house lights are still on. And then, very suddenly, The Killers entered the stage and started performing “Mr Brightside”. We sang along to this upbeat song, a song that everyone knows like the back of their hands, even those who don’t consider themselves “Victims”. It was definitely the best way to kickstart the gig. Those who went to this gig and only knew this song were in for a surprise.

The lights turned off, and the backdrop changed into a logo similar to that of a police badge, with “Battle Born” written on top and “Nevada” at the bottom. Then “Spaceman” started to play. Having listened to their setlist, this is one of my favorites and I love that they pulled off this song with so much energy, that maybe even people who don’t know the song will start jumping once they hear it played like this.

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Again, one of my primary reasons why I went to this gig is to hear “The Way It Was” live, and the band didn’t fail me! What made the live performance more beautiful than the studio version is that it includes a call-and-response. Before the song’s bridge, Brandon asked the crowd to follow him in singing:

“If I
Go on with you
Can it be the way it was
Tonight?”

And the people are very good singers, too!

Lots of call-and-response followed throughout the gig (For Reasons Unknown, All These Things That I’ve Done, From Here On Out, I Think We’re Alone Now, among others). That is what made this concert special–the band consciously involves the crowd in their performance, making it more intimate.

A video of “The Way It Was” uploaded by Queenie Quitoriano on Youtube:

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Another thing I loved about this gig is how they play with the lights. They have their Battle Born lightning bolt (that I mentioned earlier) which lights up along with the music. But probably the best utilization of lights was during “Shadowplay” when the band turned the venue into one big dance club, with laser lights beaming across the entire coliseum while dancing to the music. It makes you want to capture the moment, but capturing it on camera will not do justice to the experience. So you just stand there and sing along while the lights enrapture you.

Here is a video of it, uploaded by Karla Redor on Youtube:


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I remember when I was at a Maroon 5 concert two years ago. When Adam Levine said “Mahal ko kayo” to the crowd, a guy beside me said “Oh, he already said the magic word. Their set is nearing the end.”

Well The Killers is different, because Brandon Flowers did his research. He demonstrated his Filipino-speaking skills by saying: “Mabuhay, Manila! Sa wakas, The Killers are here. Thank you for not giving up on us.” I was actually shocked when he continued speaking in Tagalog at another point in the concert, reciting the Filipino motto: “maka-Diyos, makatao, makakalikasan, makabayan.” and added that their city’s motto is “What happens in Vegas…” (the crowd answers, “stays in Vegas!”). “But that’s bullsh*t, because the Killers are in Manila tonight!”

He also introduced each of the band’s members while they play solos: Dave Keuning on guitar, Ronnie Vannucci Jr on drums, Jake Blanton on bass (as temporary replacement for Mark Stoermer), and Filipino touring guitarist Ted Sablay, adding: “We actually carry a bit of the Philippines everywhere we go. His father is from the Pampanga province.”

Aww. Now that is one hell of an artist who genuinely cares about the culture of their fans.

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The band played more of their hits, including Human, Somebody Told Me, Miss Atomic Bomb, Runaways, and Jenny Was A Friend of Mine. Of course, the people shouted the mandatory “We Want More!” after the set so the band came back and played a three-song encore, ending with the anthemic “When You Were Young” and Ronnie throwing a lot of drum sticks to the crowd and saying “Tell your friends!”

A video of “Somebody Told Me”, uploaded by Francis Tan on Youtube:


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With the length of this blog post, you can already conclude that I really enjoyed the show. It was definitely one of the highlights of my year. This is coming from someone who doesn’t know The Killers two months ago and was afraid that the ticket will not be worth the price (but even ended up buying a tour shirt!)

I was at the Upper Box section but I might as well be standing up front–I was shouting and jumping and throwing my hands up in the air. I was standing the entire time because the songs were too full of adrenaline that you will forget how to sit down.

Needless to say, it was love at first gig. And though this post is lengthy, this still falls short of expressing what a wonderful experience going to a Killers gig is. I often go to concerts alone and there is a certain kind of emptiness that goes along with it, but it was not the case with this. It was the first time that I went to a gig by myself and became truly happy. I did not feel alone, because I was sharing that great atmosphere with the band and a lot of other people who love them. I haven’t done drugs but going to a concert like this is definitely way better than that. It was euphoric.

At the expense of making a pun, it was a killer gig. It left with me a solid post-concert depression, so I really hope to see them again soon. Brandon, Dave, Ronnie, Ted, Jake, Mark, and the entire Battle Born tour crew, thank you very freaking deeply.

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The Killers live in Manila setlist courtesy of Manila Concert Scene

For more pictures please visit the official photographer’s website www.magicliwanag.com

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. at first, i wasn’t supposed to go to the concert too, but good thing i changed my mind. and it was a good thing that you did, as well! amazing concert, no?

    more than a week later and i’m still having a post-concert depression! 🙂

    1. KC says:

      Hi, I’m sorry I read your comment just now. 😀 Yes it was a really good thing we changed our minds (reminds me of another Killers song on the setlist hehe)! I haven’t gone to many concerts yet, but this is the most amazing one I’ve had. I reaaaaally hope they come back here and I’ll make sure I’ll be closer to the stage! It’s been two weeks already and I’m still having post-concert depression too! 🙂

  2. Arya says:

    i loved the killers even more after the concert and wished that I should have gotten a better ticket, I thought it would be a waste to buy the standing but I was proven wrong. The concert was just amazing, it makes me happy and sing everytime I search their concert videos in youtube

    1. KC says:

      Exactly how I feel, Arya! I also regret not getting a ticket closest to the stage. It would’ve been amazing, although I noticed those in patron were not crazy enough to jump around in unison 😦 It was an amazing concert nonetheless, these Killers really know how to put on a great show! 🙂

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