Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Brandon Flowers brings Chrissie Hynde on stage for pop masterclass in London

26 May 2015, 10:00 | Written by Tom Hocknell

It's hard to know what The Killers fans made of tonight, especially those that mistook the band’s initial love of new wave pop for irony. There was plenty at Brixton Academy (22nd May), with Flowers mining Hall & Oates, Steve Winwood and his inner statesman; rolling vowels like the finest evangelical preacher.

He’s stopped wearing road kill, and is such a pin up you can see the folds. It's easy to imagine him backstage telling himself not to stand on the speaker stacks until at least the fourth song, but his resolve lasted five seconds, as he jumped up to a crowd relishing the a-Ha riffs of Untangled love. He’s a natural front man, and his own biggest fan, endearingly mouthing the lyrics he should be leaving to his gospel backing singers.

The Desired Effect's lead single “Can’t Deny My Love” grows with each airing; an 80’s hairbrush in the mirror classic unwritten at the time, while “Crossfire” from Flamingo hits FM drive time with laser guided accuracy. He introduces “Magdalene” like we’re queuing for baptism, and follows with the sleek lullaby of “Hard Enough”. Sounding like an off-cut from Springsteen’s underrated Tunnel of Love album, its late night reassurance (‘‘Been telling myself that I can roll with the changes,’) as he braces for the morning he fears may never come.

The Killers’ “Shot at the Night”, reminiscent of Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us”, would have slotted in perfectly, but instead we get “Digging Up Your Heart”, which he’s more pleased with now than he will be in five years’ time. And despite a brilliantly subdued “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine”, things flagged a little, until the synths of “Mr, Brightside”, magnified to Duke Dumont levels, conquered once again.

Less than a week after the release of his new album, his fans had done their homework, greeting the Italo-disco of “Lonely Town” with the enthusiasm of only the young. After her appearance the previous night, the surprise was not Chrissie Hynde, but her singing “Don’t Get Me Wrong” like she’d never heard it before. She’s not quite the Patti Smith she thinks she is, but was better suited to the duet on the tightly programmed “Between Me And You”.

Next is the pounding of “I Can Change”, with its synth line of Bronski Beat’s “Small Town Boy”. Flowers pays respect by dropping in the original’s “Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away…” It’s a defiant slice of pop perfection. He closes with the gospel of “Still Want You”, as the crowd sing the words back to a man so on top of his game it’s unlikely he needs validation.

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