The Killers welcomed surprise guest Bruce Springsteen onstage for their entire three-song encore Saturday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
With the E Streeter in tow, the band performed a pair of Springsteen classics, “Badlands” and the concert-ending “Born to Run” — both assisted by saxophonist Jake Clemons, the nephew of the late Clarence Clemons — as well as the Killers’ 2021 version of “A Dustland Fairytale,” a Springsteen collaboration and remake of a track off their 2008 LP Day & Age.
In 2021, following the release of “Dustland,” Flowers spoke to Rolling Stone about the collaboration, which he had originally envisioned as a live performance together before the Covid-19 pandemic moved the new rendition into the studio.
“The idea to record it remotely was initially about giving people something during quarantine,” he says. “‘Dustland’’s lineage leads straight to Bruce. When we finished it back in 2008, I sent him a copy and a note expressing my gratitude for his contribution to my life.”
Flowers continued, “I attribute my discovery and absorption of his music with helping me become a more authentic writer. He helped me to see the extraordinary in everyday people and their lives. And in this case, it was my parents who were under the microscope. Their faith and doubts, their search for salvation in the desert. It sounds Biblical. It also sounds Springsteenian.”
The last time Flowers and Springsteen sang together onstage was back in 2009, when the Killers and Springsteen were on the same lineup at the Pinkpop festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands. Toward the end of Springsteen’s set, Flowers came out to sing “Thunder Road.”
“That’s a special song,” he told Rolling Stone in 2017, “and was a real highlight of my life and career.”
While Springsteen — who earlier this week announced his upcoming covers LP Only the Strong Survive — hasn’t played any full shows himself since his On Broadway residency wrapped in Oct. 2021, the rocker has kept busy on the live circuit with benefit appearances, late-night TV performances and surprise cameos at tri-state area concerts by Paul McCartney and Coldplay. Springsteen and the E Street Band will embark on a proper North American tour in 2023.