When reviewing a concert, I always look at the whole experience rather than just the performance of an artist. If I was only reviewing The Killers act, it would have been a five-star performance. Sadly, much of the evening was blackened by some poor organisation and very bad crowd control.
Firstly, there was an outside bar area. To enter this area, people had their ticket stubs torn and they were not allowed pass-outs. So anybody who was holding tickets for a friend would have encountered hassles getting it to them. Previously, ticket stubs were only torn right outside the entrance to the Dome. I am sure Big Concerts will say it was for security purposes and crowd management, arguments I would happily agree with if it weren’t for the fact that security guards were re-selling Golden Circle armbands. I witnessed the same thing at Cokefest (the one where they ran out of Coke). Where was the crowd control then?
Secondly, there was pandemonium at the bar area. Yes, with that many people you should expect to stand in lines. But if there were more bar areas, and they were properly managed maybe people wouldn’t have queued for so long. A can of beer (which cost R17) is dangerous as a projectile, and so none were allowed out the bar area. How come people were not given enough plastic cups for their beers then? People would buy a dozen beers, be given six or seven cups, then be stopped by security on the way out the bar area and told to get more cups. Many people had to stand in queues again, adding to the problem. Some managed to sneak cans out. How did that happen? More importantly, why were so many people put in a position where they decided to break the rules?
The third problem is that as a live music venue the Dome may be able to accommodate large numbers of people but produces poor quality sound. A giant, metallic hall with high a high roof and refractive surfaces does not produce great acoustics. If you were fortunate enough to be able to camp outside the venue and get a spot near the front you were ok, but for those folks who came later and had to stand further back the sound quality was poor.
Having said that, Zebra and Giraffe didn’t do a bad job of opening the show. There were no fireworks in their performance, and not having the backing of the full sound and lighting system makes being the opening act a tough task. Sad as it is, most people like to go to concerts and hear music they have heard on the radio. Zebra and Giraffe may not have gone in with a catalogue of instantly recognizeable songs, but did well with what they had.
The Killers performance was not like one I have seen in a concert before. Artists often come to South Africa and give us their view on our country, tell us how much they love Madiba, and how bright the future is for South Africa. The Counting Crows did this. I remember thinking, “I paid R350 a ticket to hear you sing Mr. Jones, not hear your political views”.
The Killers, however, did not do this. In fact, Brandon Flowers hardly addressed the crowd at all. The band were all business, belting out tune after tune with little interruption or delay between songs. They didn’t force a sing along (though I get goosebumps just thinking about the atmosphere when 20 000 people started singing I got soul, but I’m not a soldier), make obsequious statements or try impress the crowd by showing that they had learned one or two Afrikaans words. They got on stage and played the songs people like to hear.
Brandon Flowers also had all the girls swooning, sporting a rugged-looking beard. According to a study, women tend to be attracted to men who look a bit rough when life is hard, such as in times of recession. The study concluded that woman feel that a rougher looking man is more likely to be able to protect and provide. Judging by the response Flowers received from female fans, I’ve decided to throw my razor away!
Review by Shaun Wewege