‘Tonight is for Ric’: The Killers pay tribute to The Cars frontman at Pilgrimage


‘Tonight is for Ric’: The Killers pay tribute to The Cars frontman at Pilgrimage

BY ALEXANDER WILLIS

“Tonight is for Ric.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lost one its legends last week when Ric Ocasek — singer, songwriter and guitarist for The Cars — passed away of natural causes at the age of 75. 

Among the groups’ millions of fans across the world just so happens to be Brandon Flowers — founding member and lead vocalist for The Killers, who, in a tribute to the music legend, kicked off their headlining act Saturday at Pilgrimage Music Festival with a cover of “My Best Friend’s Girl.”

Held right across from the Factory at Franklin, the first day of this year’s Pilgrimage Fest saw thousands of fans descend upon the rolling hills of the Park at Harlinsdale, many of whom were drawn to the festival to see The Killers explosive show.

“We always love coming to Tennessee… it always makes us off our game a little bit because we know you know your music out here,” Flowers told the crowd. “They say everybody’s a musician in Nashville. Is that true?”

The Killers performed a total of 15 songs during their roughly two hour-long setlist, showcasing a healthy mix of their chart-topping classics such as “Somebody Told Me,” “When You Were Young” and “Human,” along with their softer hits such as “The Way it Was” and “For Reasons Unknown.” The band showed no favoritism to any of their particular albums either, with four of the songs coming off of their debut 2004 album Hot Fuss, and the rest ranging from 2006’s Sam’s Town all the way to 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful.

 

Photo by Rob Loud, courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media

Readers may note one song in particular is missing from that list; arguably the band’s most iconic song, and perhaps one of the most well-known songs of the 21st century: “Mr. Brightside.”

The Killers first teased “Mr. Brightside” at the very end of their setlist, only fans noticed it was missing its iconic guitar picking intro, with only drums serving to keep the rhythm. Flowers also let the audience do much of the singing in his stead, with the song having a much slower pace than usual. 

It was only after a minute, however, that the band began the song anew with its familiar fast pace and instrumentals. White lights flashing, Flowers dialed the energy up for the band’s final performance, inciting thousands of fans to begin jumping to the rhythm, singing along in shouts and cheers.

Photo by Rob Loud, courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media

Flowers considered Ocasek a personal hero of his, recounting memories of listening to The Cars on audio cassette tape as a child during long car rides. Flowers even had the honor of inducting The Cars into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Artists are not eligible to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until 25 years after the release of their first record — in The Killers’ case, that would be in 2029. So while it may still be a good ways out, Flowers, along with his fellow band members, may very well join the ranks of his personal hero Ocasek — who, while is no longer with us today, was very much alive Saturday night in Franklin through the words of a lifelong fan, and through the ears of thousands.

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