Killers music for the ages
She may be 51, but the Sun's Rita proves she can rock like the youngsters -- and fit in while she's at it

Toronto sun

I've been slain by The Killers.

Yes, this 51-year-old, shortish, loudish lover of cats, writer of food and shopper of all things on sale is also a closet rock music lover who has flirted with all mode of musical style.

So -- why The Killers rock group? And why now?

Granted, I've always had an open mind to any music and music style. You name it, I've heard it, relished it, argued it and enjoyed it, be it classic rock, heavy metal, grunge, rap, the blues and even some Marilyn Manson ditties. And let's not forget Kanye West, although I glaze over whenever I hear anything with a Simpson name attached to it.

I play my music loud and proud.


Musically, I'm a throwback to the Peter Gabriel, Genesis and Bruce Springsteen school of concerts -- but The Killers?

These guys are young enough to be my, um, nephews and somehow I could not see any of them signing me up as groupie (well, maybe if they needed a meal fixed).

But I digress. Something about this band and their music stirred up old, haunting feelings of longing and melancholy to the point it was almost painful. It was highschool angst all over again, the tug of wanderlust and the urge to run away and join a circus.

I asked the various teenagers in my life what The Killers music meant to them. "Well, you can make out the lyrics for starters -- and their music talks to us," offered niece Cristina. "Plus the band members are really cute."

Cute? The drummer could be My Name Is Earl's younger brother, the bass player has a surreal elegance to his stance and lead singer Brandon Flowers has a really sweet, intense mannerism that borders on stilted foppishness yet is strangely endearing. Many young girls would probably want to take him home, while I just had this odd desire to feed him a sandwich.

The group started haunting me even more after their latest song and video -- When You Were Young, from their Sam's Town CD -- had me weeping and wanting more. (I later tried to explain these emotions to my husband, who just stared at me blankly. )


My watershed moment had arrived when I knew I just had to meet the band and find out once and for all how a middle-aged, middle-class, middle-of-the-road woman with sensible shoes on her feet and graduated eye wear on her face could act like some angst-ridden teenage fan every time a Killers song came on.

Through some humble grovelling to the good folks at CHUM, my nieces Cristina and Sarah and I were invited to the Intimate and Interactive with the Killers event last Thursday night at CITY-TV.

We were there to see for ourselves how music transcends all boundaries and generations, playing no favourites to any one person or age group.

Still, the generation gap looked pretty wide when I showed up with my two teens in tow -- they perfectly settling in, me looking like Mother Teresa on a chaperoning gig.

What would The Killers think if they knew their fan base had spread to the middle-age? While some fans were worrying about how close they could get to the action, I was wondering if I could handle standing on a hard floor for several hours. With no bathroom breaks.

But my biggest fear was would having an older fan -- and one that looked like a stern mother -- creep the band out?

"Music is a cross-generational thing," says David Kines, v-p of MuchMusic, who has been involved in hundreds of live TV events of this type. "And it's really important to remember -- it's the fans who make the stars."

And the Nieces (they finish each other's sentences and actually do think as a single entity) also assured me that "music doesn't really know how old you are."

I was pretty sure the band would, as I ran images in my head of Pope Benedict humming AC/DC to help calm my nerves.

Thanks to the smooth ministrations of one Graham Machacek of MuchMusic (voted a hot babe by younger niece Sarah) we were quickly escorted inside, placed in a safe environment -- literally a few feet away from where The Killers would perform -- and waited for the band to appear.

Which they did, in an almost matter-of-fact style, quickly starting the set with When You Were Young. The energy in the room immediately erupted and I sang ALL THE WORDS like everyone else. I danced and rocked my head. I screamed. I talked to strangers young and old and asked them the same question: Why The Killers?

Because their music rocks, said one older man. Because they're awesome, screamed a young girl. Because their music lifts you up and reveals something not of this world before gently, safely, setting you down again, thought I.

A pro of this event? I wore black, flashing cleavage. Cons? The hard floor gave me leg cramps and the screaming became annoying.

Pro? I fit in!

Afterwards, our excitement was so overwhelming all three of us couldn't stop talking. And just as the group was almost out the building, Sarah ran up to Flowers and asked for an autograph. And a hug, which he warmly did.

I almost ran for an autograph and hug, too. But then I stopped-- wouldn't look, um, dignified for a person my age.

Or maybe not. Killers! Here I come!