The Killers secret set at Glastonbury

Originally featured here on tmrw magazine. 

it’s sunday afternoon at glastonbury, your serotonin levels are at an all time low and you’re questioning your ability to make it through til the end of the festival.

that’s until you get that magic text… “rumour has it killers are playing a secret set, 5:30 on the john peel stage”. wow.

at this point in time, it’s only 3pm. i knew i had two and a half hours to get to the john peel tent, hey, i bet there was even time for a quick burger and bev stop en route. but i wasn’t about to risk it.

ever since i was 13 and i watched brandon flowers call himself mr brightside to a packed crowd at wolverhampton civic, the song causes an eruption of excitement i can’t quite explain. the killers have been one of those bands you stick by, you defend their shit albums between sam’s town and battle born and you get your back up anytime anyone calls brandon flowers slightly pretentious. that he may be, but he is also a god amongst men and i for one am not going to sit back and listen to average joe defame him.

as flowers donned the stage in his saint laurent suit, and the unmistakable chords of ‘when we were young’ hit, i genuinely shed a tear. the mixture of lack of sleep, a humid as fuck tent and the half-and-half mixture of vodka and a coke i was sipping meant i couldn’t handle the emotions that seeing my numero uno band at my numero uno festival induced.

whilst the las vegas band played their first track, the crowd was electric. flowers finished the song to a deafening chorus of cheers. he told us, “they say you play the john peel stage twice in your career – once on the way up, and once on the way down.” with a pause and side-smile he said, “it’s great to be back” before he launched into ‘somebody told me’.

the following 53ish minutes of the set was all killer(s) and no filler. they played a constant stream of all their hits, before ending on the highest of highs with ‘mr brightside’. i mean, there’s a reason the song has been in the charts every year since its release in 2004 (true story).

i’ve seen the killers a fair few times in the last decade, some i can remember and some are clouded by a mix of cider-black. but what i do know is, every single time they get better and better. flowers told jo whiley in an interview after the set, “it was daunting to walk out to what we walked out to. we’ve played mr brightside probably 1500 times in our lives and i think that was the craziest it’s ever been”.

after being in the centre of that crowd, i can see what he meant. never have i ever seen a group of people so committed to singing every single word of a song. i may have watched back the set a few more times that i’d care to admit considering i’ve only been home from glasto for approx. 48 hours, but… when the crowd are singing louder than the man on the mic, surely you know you’ve done something right in your career.

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