Live Review

Brandon Flowers, O2 Academy, Manchester

Gone is the pomp of The Killers arena tour, and what remains are his trademark vocals and slick style.

With a Number One album ‘Flamingo’ under his glittery belt and a winning smile that women fawn over, it was never going to be a Herculean task for Brandon ‘Oh! He’s so good looking! Don’t you just want to punch him AND have his babies’ Flowers to win over the crowd’s affections. Thankfully, his musical choices tonight at Manchester’s O2 Academy could’ve done this alone.

Backed by Ambulance Ltd (If you don’t remember them, dig out your OC album soundtracks) and two female singers, The Killers frontman showcases new album ‘Flamingo’ for what is essentially his female fan club plus their boyfriends, husbands or dads (we also spot a couple of granddads at the front).

Gone is the pomp of The Killers arena tour - feather jackets and palm trees aside - and what remains are his trademark vocals and slick style - both sonically and in a smart waistcoat with rolled sleeves. Kicking off modestly with the gentle gospel number ‘On The Floor’, he plunges into the explosive recent Top 10 hit ‘Crossfire’ (no prizes for guessing the percentage of the audience who would gladly give anything - husbands and limbs included - to ‘lay their body down’ next to his). He follows it up quickly with the uplifting and newly-Christened fan fave ‘Magdalena’, complete with shades of Bono and Bruce, before he throws in a perfectly suited light-rock cover of ‘Bette Davis Eyes’. What has seemed cheesy to some critics during the tour, however, seems both fitting for his vocal range and for any Clairol Nice N Easy consumers in the crowd. By the midway point, the room is bursting with energy and encouraged further with a welcome stop-off at The Killers’ ‘Losing Touch’… naked, with no Roxy Music-style trumpets in sight. For the present purpose, it works well and sets the tone for the bigger numbers - ‘Only The Young’, where Flowers leads a ‘repeat after me’ chorus of ‘Only The Young Can Break Away. Break Away’ and the cliched, but popular ‘Playing With Fire’. He returns swiftly for an encore, due to ‘time limits’, with a jaunty Flamingo bonus track ‘The Clock was Tickin” and a campfire rendition of ‘When You Were Young’. With the lowest turnover of beers at the bar in recent gig-going memory, Brandon Flowers successfully passed the live show litmus test. Solo mission accomplished.

The NME recently came out with a blog about why ‘Brandon Flowers Is Better Off Without The Killers’ and another post about how he should be ‘running back’ to his bandmates after their review, but based on tonight’s performance, it seems that both journos miss the point a little. Whilst ‘Flamingo’ is not admittedly 2000 light years away from ‘Day and Age’, it’s nice to see Brandon in a different setting / light (no matter how slight) doing what he does best: delivering catchy anthems with a suave wink and a smile. The solo band lack the dynamic he shares with The Killers (and the Killer hit singles), but this was never meant to be about them anyway. This was ‘A Brandon Flowers’ production. And a thoroughly enjoyable one at that!

* On The Floor
* Crossfire
* Magdalena
* Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes cover)
* Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts
* Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas
* Was It Something I Said?
* Hard Enough
* Losing Touch (re-worked)
* Swallow It
* Only The Young
* Playing With Fire

* The Clock Was Tickin’
* When You Were Young (acoustic)

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