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Review: Brandon Flowers at Highline Ballroom in New York City

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There's never such a thing as too much Brandon Flowers. So when the Killers frontman performed for only 45 minutes last week at New York's Highline Ballroom it was simply not enough to satisfy the insatiable appetite of his cheering fans.

But let's be fair. This was not a Killers show. Fans could not expect him to crank out the entire Killers canon and play for two and half hours. This night was all about Brandon and his forthcoming new solo record.

Over the past years, I have seen The Killers perform a bunch of times - from Los Angeles to Berlin, and from Atlanta to Las Vegas. It was fun to see their new wave-ish hot pop fuss turn into neon-lit, arena-sized rock shows that have crowds dizzy on their feet everytime.

In the early Killers days, Brandon told me that there were moments that he suffered stage fright. What helped him was to have his keyboard positioned right on the middle of the stage to keep him steady in his comfort zone.

Over the years, from album to album, and from tour to tour, his keyboard has slowly moved to the side of the stage, giving him a chance to overcome his anxiety and get more comfortable in the spotlight.

Most telling about his first New York solo show on Thursday was the total absence of a keyboard. It was all about Brandon Flowers, front and center. No fuss, no frills. 

If this forthcoming solo album and tour will show us one thing, it is that Brandon Flowers has turned into a versatile, confident entertainer, and that is an accomplishment that must be noted. Even tough at times, he still appears somewhat uncomfortable, it is much more a reflection of his stirring, soul-searching lyrics than his actual state of mind.

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His New York show not only introduced the audience to Flowers, the solo artist, but also revealed the sound of the his much-anticipated album "Flamingo." Musically, it is best described as a mash between "Sam's Town" and "Day & Age," a mixture of gritty Americana and glossy Vegas pop.

Take for example the somber and introverted ballads "On The Floor" and "Magdalena," a song about an annual Mexican pilgrimage, which balanced nicely with "Playing With Fire" and the catchy "Swallow," a song about not falling in love if you can't handle it.

The Henderson, NV singer spiced things up a little by giving the audience a couple of crowd favorites, including a stripped down version of "Losing Touch" and an acoustic version of "When You Were Young," which was absolutely phenomenal (and should be considered for a b-side release one day).

Even though this first New York solo gig was relatively brief, Flowers' new material is compelling and his stage show more personal than ever. Flowers could have opted to take a well-deserved break from touring, but this gig shows that he is more than ready to strike out on his own.

Click here for the entire setlist.

September 1, 2010 in Brandon Flowers | Permalink