Exclaim!

The Killers / Tegan and Sara

Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC, December 3

The Killers / Tegan and Sara
Photo: Wyatt Boswell
5
Tegan and Sara are about the most humble and endearing performers one could ever hope to see. Happy to be partially home (Tegan splits time between Vancouver and L.A.), the Calgary-born twins worked their trademark good-natured banter to a tee. Tegan introduced Sainthood single "Alligator" by saying Sara was considering auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance, and that we'd get a taste of her skills during the second verse. This would amount to a little wiggle, what Tegan later jovially dubbed a "Canadian shuffle."

With a four-piece backing band in tow, Sara had a voice like cotton candy, sweet yet somewhat intangible, while Tegan had a slightly more world-weary timbre. In effect, they enhanced each other while showing themselves in greater relief.

The twins pulled selections from across their ever-expanding catalogue. Their 2009 TiŽsto collaboration "Feel It in My Bones" didn't seem out of place next to "Living Room" from their 2002 album If It Was You, though the latter was fully absorbed into their increasingly synth-pop direction as opposed to its original banjo-laden, slide-guitar style. One of the biggest treats was "Now I'm All Messed Up" from their upcoming 2013 album Heartthrob. Set up by Tegan as a song that would make you wish Sara was never your girlfriend, this was a stirring example of downtempo pop done right.

Unfortunately, the Killers were unable to build upon the established rapport. Set in front of often pixelated visuals that would give a Windows 98 screensaver a run for its money, the Vegas based band appeared dressed completely in black head to toe, visibly foreshadowing the bland performance to come.

For a lead singer, Brandon Flowers didn't show much of a range or a remotely interesting voice, coming off like a two-octave Bono. He sounded out of his depths unless harmonized with one of his bandmates. Even his banter came off awkward and forced, and Flowers didn't have much stage presence to speak of. His idea of performing was to rest a leg on a monitor or stand on it a couple times a song while pointing to random people or shaking his fist, whenever he wasn't wandering around the stage purposelessly.

Musically, the whole band was uninspiring. They were fairly tight, as you would expect from such professionals, but they were far from pushing themselves. Their drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. was the only one onstage who didn't have to try to not look bored. It took about 40 minutes for the Killers to finally put some energy into a song, their early single "Somebody Told Me," which featured an extended intro that blessedly didn't sound like everything else they'd played, care of an edgier guitar tone. The crowd let out a well-deserved rolling cheer after that one.

Granted, for those who are already fans of their overwrought Springsteen/U2-indebted stadium pop-rock balladry, this was likely a passable show. But this was assuredly a concert for fans only. Though the red/green/blue lasers would provide momentary visual excitement, there was little substance to latch onto for the unfamiliar.
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