Brandon Flowers at Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA, July 30, 2015 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Brandon Flowers

Brandon Flowers at Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA, July 30, 2015,

Aug 01, 2015 Web Exclusive Photography by Torey Mundkowsky Bookmark and Share

Brandon Flowers has charisma in spades. As a performer, he almost reminds of an early Mick Jagger, only happier. Or a glitzier Bruce Springsteen. Onstage, he stalks back and forth with a perpetual ear-to-ear smile, radiating infectious joy. He stands on monitors to oversee the crowd, leading his followers in chants and raising his arms in celebration. He commands the stage.

On Thursday night, in front of a packed house at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, Flowers brought his solo show to town. His main band, The Killers, having been on relative hiatus (save a brief tour in 2014), Flowers has been given a chance to branch out, releasing his second solo effort, The Desired Effect. And his new live setup is remarkably different from that of Flowers’ main gig. On this night, he fronted a 10-piece band featuring two backup singers and horn players, all to fantastically recreate the sparkling ‘80s vibe of The Desired Effect.

After some pre-show house music the likes of Genesis (“Follow You Follow Me”) and Lionel Richie (“Dancing on the Ceiling”), both apropos to the vibe of The Desired Effect, Flowers opened the set with full-on horns and backup singers powering through the album’s opening two tracks, “Dreams Come True” and “Can’t Deny My Love” like the 1980s were nowhere near three decades in the rearview. It set the stage for a show that, although no less energetic than his main band, was a much different beast. Flowers stayed with the solo material with his next three songs, “Crossfire,” “Magdelena,” and “Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts” from 2010’s Flamingo. At this point in the set, five songs in, what was made most clear is how wonderfully heavy on melody Flowers’ solo material is. Every song is a singalong, and the crowd sure picked up on it, dancing and singing every word, to Flowers’ obvious delight.

Posing the question to the crowd, “Is he innocent or guilty?,” Flowers then segued into a slowed-down version of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” the mysterious tale of a couple and possibly devious intent from The Killers’ 2004 debut Hot Fuss. [FYI, in a post-song Flowers poll, most of the crowd voted guilty.] After two more songs from The Desired Effect, the stellar “Lonely Town” and “Diggin’ Up the Heart,” as well as another Killers track (“Read My Mind”), Flowers introduced a cover of Spoon’s “The Underdog.” From this reviewer’s vantage point, it seemed that the crowd was not familiar, but the indie-darlings’ 2007’s track fit perfectly, imbued by the band with a certain Hall & Oates-esque horn-filled jubilance. “I Can Change,” from The Desired Effect was transformed, a bit strangely, from aching ballad to thumping bass dance track, and “The Way It’s Always Been” found Flowers bathed in pure white light, backed only by spare acoustic guitar until an unexpected climax of horns, backing singers, and full band thrust at the song’s end. Later, Flowers brought onto the stage Joe Pug for a duet version of Pug’s “If Still It Can’t Be Found.” “I Still Want You,” from The Desired Effect, elicited beautiful call-and-response from the audience, and “Only the Young,” from Flamingo ended the set acoustically after some technical difficulties but with a sad trumpet outro playing Flowers off the stage.

And that was it. While many in the audience seemed to expect/hope for Flowers to come back out for a few more songs, as soon as he said goodbye, many concergoers simply up and left before the house lights were turned on. It was a moderately disappointing end, being deprived of the opportunity to rave and chant for more, followed by the artist’s return for one or two more. However, what this night proved was that, despite the vim, vigor, and fire of his main band, Brandon Flowers is more than capable of carrying his own show. It’s a different show for sure, but a glorious, celebratory, melody-filled party nonetheless. (


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Jan DJ2
September 9th 2015

Good music