Concert Review: KROQ Christmas, Night 2

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Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City (Sunday, Dec. 14)

Sunday's epic moment during the second night of KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas belonged to the second-billed Killers.

During the anthem "All the Things I've Said and Done," singer Brandon Flowers pointed his mike stand toward the audience as a rising chant rose up from the crowd without his singing a word: "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." The number built to a crescendo conclusion, and the group kicked into the racing "Mr. Brightside" to wind up the night's most powerful performance, arena rock in an amphitheater setting.

Even headlining alt-rock legend the Cure didn't summon as much power, though the crowd was giddy for the English band's often mesmerizing airy and entwined guitar lines over bittersweet melodies like "Pictures of You," a brace of new material, then more hits including "Friday I'm in Love" and "Just Like Heaven."

The second of the two weekend benefit concerts certainly was far richer musically, including a too-short, tightly wound offering from Scotland-based Irishmen Snow Patrol showcasing a few new songs from its latest album along with hits. Ever-frantic Scots Franz Ferdinand also previewed new material from its album due next year, but it really charged up the audience with the slamming bounce of "Take Me Out."

This year's modern-rock success story, Paramore, featured the lone female vocalist of the night. Spunky Hayley Williams and her group have a rocking urgency coupled with a warm and fun nature, making her one of the most appealing rock frontwomen since the breakout of Gwen Stefani with No Doubt in the mid-'90s.

Introduced as a surprise guest, Kanye West made the most of his time onstage, surrounded by a full band that included a kettle drum line flanking him left and right. He was boisterous and larger than life, and even if you're not likely to find him in heavy rotation on KROQ, his soul-drenched hip-hop connected with the modern rock station's crowd through sheer bravado.

Also appearing were nice-guy mellow melodicists Death Cab for Cutie; Scott Weiland of the previous evening's reunited Stone Temple Pilots, back again to offer up solo material; and New York art-pop preppies Vampire Weekend.

Both shows benefited the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center and Para Los Ninos.
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