“COVID ushered a lot of uncertainty – it forced a lot of isolation, but Middlesbrough, take a look around you, ain’t nobody isolated tonight,” declared lead singer of The Killers, Brandon Flowers, at The Riverside Stadium on Wednesday (June 1) evening – and for the thousands that were there, it was understatement of the century.

Having had to wait the best part of two years for the gig to be rescheduled, due to Covid-19 regulations and lockdowns, Mr Flowers and the rest of The Killers rolled into town ready to rock – but they weren’t the only ones, the fans were more than primed.

Thousands of people packed into The Riverside Stadium last night to see one of the biggest selling bands on the planet, and one that has longevity in the music industry, a touch of the theatrical (after all, they do hail from Last Vegas), and a penchant for the unexpected.

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Earlier in the evening, the growing crowd had already enjoyed a nostalgia-fuelled hit from Welsh-rockers Manic Street Preachers, who blasted through songs such as ‘Motorcycle Emptiness,’ ‘A Design For Life,’ and ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’ – teasing the fans for what was to come later on in the evening.

By the time the main act came – the crowd were in full voices, and ready to sing the hits from The Killers; and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

After opening with a slow and poignant warm-up of ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ – Brandon Flowers and the rest of The Killers clan played ‘When You Were Young’ followed by ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’.

The Northern Echo: Manic Street Preachers opened for The Killers. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.Manic Street Preachers opened for The Killers. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

Following those tunes was always a tough task – but ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ was always going to fit the bill.

With Flowers crooning his way through the track, including a timely and poetic line of “We lost track of the time,” it was on to other fan favourites ‘Human’ and ‘Somebody Told Me’.

Now, firmly into the first half of the show, the frontman was commanding the stage – parading around the stage from one side to the other, with fans loving it and cheering louder with his every move, every note, and every guitar solo.

The Northern Echo: The Killers play a hit-filled setlist in Middlesbrough. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.The Killers play a hit-filled setlist in Middlesbrough. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

After some tracks from their latest album, ‘Imploding the Mirage’, which they are still promoting two years after releasing it, there was time for Joy Division cover ‘Shadowplay,’ before one of the most poignant moments of the evening.

Introducing the track similar to how he did at Glastonbury in 2019 when the band headlined the festival, Brandon Flowers said: “looking back at my childhood home was my mother, and her light went out too soon” – an emotional and moody beginning to ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ started.

Everyone in The Riverside Stadium responded by holding their phone torches up – filling the venue with a beautiful cascading wall of light – as the tune reached its conclusion. Utterly mesmerising.

The Northern Echo: Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers commands the stage. Picture: ROB LOUD.Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers commands the stage. Picture: ROB LOUD.

Other highlights from the second part of the setlist included ‘Read My Mind’ and ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, with The Killers disappearing off stage after playing ‘Caution’ from the Imploding the Mirage album.

If every track they’d played this far had prompted a mad response from the crowd, the encore from the American band would far outweigh the noise of any track during the evening.

First, every word from each member of fans to song ‘Spaceman’ were belted around the four sides of The Riverside, before ‘the main event’ arrived.

The Northern Echo: The band had waited two years to play the show after a covid-19 postponement. Picture: ROB LOUD.The band had waited two years to play the show after a covid-19 postponement. Picture: ROB LOUD.

The track that everyone had been waiting for – the rest of the show acting as a preliminary moment to the one that was about to come. And, finally, the first beat dropped; Mr Brightside was upon us.

The iconic tune prompted an emotion from the crowd that is rare, it united everyone in the stadium- and brought them together in a moment of pure elation and a sing-along like no other.

A perfect end to a perfect show. The band from Las Vegas had brought some magic to Teesside, and left behind a special gift to the people of the North East.

There was a notable miss for The Killers track ‘The Man’ – but there were plenty of other quality tunes for the crowd to enjoy.  

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