In hindsight, it was pretty obvious from their earliest releases that the Killers were made to headline arenas. The Las Vegas band, which stopped by TD Garden on Monday, has possessed a larger-than-life profile since its breakthrough in the early ‘00s. Even as pop trends have changed, the Killers have maintained that stature, and Monday’s fast-paced show, which included cuts from across the band’s seven albums as well as a couple of well-chosen covers, showed why.
The Killers specialize in a modern take on “heartland rock,” fusing the synth-tinged guitar anthems that made up a chunk of top 40 radio playlists in the ‘80s with the winsome romanticism of that decade’s new wave (represented on Monday by Johnny Marr, the former Smiths guitarist who opened the show with a solo set), early-millennium swagger, and some wide-eyed American West mythmaking. Frontman Brandon Flowers has an affable charm and throws himself fully into every song, whether it’s the monumental modern power ballad “All These Things That I’ve Done,” the punchy synthpop cut “Somebody Told Me,” or the nostalgic Americana track “Runaway Horses,” and his bandmates are right there with him, whether they’re tearing into harder-edged cuts or stripping things down for tender moments, like a sweet cover of the 20th-century standard “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”
During the encore, Marr came out for a run-through of the 1987 Smiths track “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” a chiming nod to the Killers’ roots, and then the band (and Marr) closed the night with an extended version of “Mr. Brightside.” In the nearly two decades since its initial release, the chronicle of Flowers being overtaken by a green-eyed monster has become a sort of new-millennium “Don’t Stop Believin’,” a pop standard that can get rooms of people yelling along by the time its first chorus rolls around. Credit its synthpop pomp, or the way Flowers spits out its anxiety-ridden verses, or the way its grandly glum pre-chorus crests into its refrain, which is made for full-throated singing while making exaggerated gestures. Or all of that, really; on Monday, the band initially played the song in a slightly reserved form, coaxing the crowd into a chorus-singing frenzy before launching into its full-octane version. It was a master class in giving the people what they wanted, made even sweeter by how what they’d experienced up until that point had delighted them.
With Johnny Marr. At TD Garden, Oct. 3
Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.