The Man with the Affleckian Jaw: Brandon Flowers photo by Torey Mundkowsky.
Let’s have a hand, please, for the stage-crasher who seized his 15 seconds of fame during “Bones.” It’s a dull song from The Killers’ worst album, and while the invader, dressed like a solider in the Kaiser’s army, might have given singer Brandon Flowers an anxious flash of getting sucker-whupped like Oasis leader Noel Gallagher did a few months back, all he did was inject the sold-out Wednesday-night show at the Patriot Center with its sole spontaneous moment. Otherwise, the 20-song, 95-minute gig was as gaudy and efficient a pleasure machine as the theme-park casinos that have overrun The Killers’ native Las Vegas. (Of course there were confetti cannons. And pyrotechnics!)
The interruption only cost Flowers a second. This quartet of new wave dance-pop revivalists keeps a tight schedule. They probably still have a day planner from 2004 with “Take over the world” written on to-do list in it somewhere, or at least “make Duran Duran seem kind of cool again.” They’ve fumbled a bit since Hot Fuss, their debut, spawned four (four!) resistance-is-futile hit singles, but the gig betrayed no shrinking of their confidence. Or, his confidence, rather: This band, on stage at least, is all about its frontman, and in 27-year-old Flowers – the fey fellow with the faux-hawk and the Affleck-like cheekbones – they’ve got a great one, perfectly at ease beating his chest like Bono and twitching like Stop Making Sense-era David Byrne. Oh, and not that this is a perquisite for fronting a synth-pop dance outfit, but he can sing, too. He occasionally parked himself behind a center-stage, chest-high, illuminated “k” logo to tap a few quick notes on the eastern end of his keyboard, but otherwise he spent the night on vocals and stage patrol.
How good is this guy? He managed to put over the group’s recent, so-so Day & Age album almost in its entirety, turning even clunkers like the ludicrous “Joy Ride” (reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ horrific mid-80s forays into dance music more than New Order or Depeche Mode) into crowd-pleasers. And if he can do that, you know he’s going to knock the group’s A-material (the one-two of “Mr. Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done” that closed the set proper) out of the, er, basketball arena.
Tricked out in neon and a half-dozen fake palm trees, the stage looked like a neglected mini-golf course until the backdrop – a latticework of tiny electric lights — blinked to life. The visuals suited The Killers’ songs, which at their best soar and shimmer with visceral brio without troubling themselves to be about much of anything. (Hey, we all still sing along when “Devil’s Haircut” comes on, right?)
Flowers eschewed banter, except to mention that the band had visited the White House earlier, and that they “were having a really good day.” Words: not this group’s strong suit. But the line “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a solider” sure feels like it makes sense when bellowed aloud with the head tilted back at a 45-degree angle. If 10,000 people do it at once, the line bypasses mere rationality and becomes obvious. Oh, you still want to know what it means? Maybe the guy in the German army uniform knows.
A slightly shorter version of this review appears in today’s Paper of Record.