Brandon Flowers @ Kentish Town Forum

18 Oct


Camden rolls out the red carpet for The Killers’  frontman – 17/10/2010

There’s a red dot at the Kentish Town Forum, dancing across the dark stage like a laser pointer. It’s a roadie filming the expectant crowd with a camera phone. The crowd scream, pause and examine the person holding the camera phone. It’s a girl. Confused, they contemplate this for 3 seconds, lower their hand made signs (DO YOU LIKE MY HAT?) and start again.

The roadie quickly tapes the A4 set list to the floor and exits stage left. More screams, then brief silence. As the last house lights dim, brassy intro music accompanies rose red search lights and the screaming is no longer shouting, it’s a communal, constant high pitch gargle of expectation for the man that made it cool to inject pop in to rock.

A gruff rocker emerges from the darkness, guitar firmly strapped across his hips. The hand made signs fall, the moshpit of teenage girls gawp. It’s Transfer from San Diego. In the glamorous, sequin studded glitzfest that surrounds Brandon Flowers like a cape on loan from Elton John, even the support band get a big Vegas style introduction.

Just weeks after his solo debut, Brandon Flowers is on the road, ensuring that the support band follow the Killers’ template of shock and awe, suspense then spectacle. So it comes as a surprise when Brandon walks on stage alone, standing in he spotlight and opening with the stripped down, stage school story-telling of On The Floor. He isn’t wearing any feathers, shoulder pads or posing behind a retro piano. Instead, he looks every inch the  shy 1950’s handyman, with braces, work shirt and hefty  boots. This is Brandon wandering solo, positioned at front of stage like a solitary scene from Oliver.

We knew Brandon could sing, but this show proves that there’s a bigger voice and a wider talent in the grip of a man intent on glamorising his hometown via pop, country, rock and beyond. Switching between heartfelt ballads and epic singalongs like Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts with ease, debut single Crossfire is full of fist shaking, stomping and swirls.

With the camp showman confidence of a 50 year old Morrissey, Brandon leaps around the stage for singalongs but stays fixed when getting emotional, though the arms still flail and punch in time to a cover of Bette Davis Eyes. Yes, Bette Davis Eyes – a 1974 song that is a regular cover in Vegas cabaret bars for retired couples. You’ve probably heard it on Magic FM or at a wedding. It sounds great but has floored the audience, expecting a snatch of Mr Brightside.

Back to the album tracks, Brandon is in safer territory, preaching to the converted with a selection of songs which are often chorus after chorus. Barely a sentence passes without upward intonation warning you about the arrival of the next one. It’s like ABBA birthing chorus triplets every minute. A bit of Killers arrived in the form of Day & Age album track Losing Touch which fits with the sound and Vegas narrative and we’re left with Brandon singing When You Were Young, with only the bearded keyboard player to help him out on acoustic guitar. With the rest of the band off stage, it sounds like a gospel prayer. But there’s no need for prayers. With Brandon’s solo debut eclipsing the last Killers album and the man proving he can deliver a solo performance to shock the house, everyone’s on a winning streak here.

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