Gig Review: Brandon Flowers at Leeds O2 Academy

Brandon Flowers at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Torey Mundkowsky
Brandon Flowers at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Torey Mundkowsky
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Brandon Flowers, Leeds O2 Academy

BRANDON Flowers is a devout Mormon raised in Las Vegas. His onstage outfits inspired the sartorial choices of despotic clotheshorse Muammar Gaddafi. He recently admitted to keeping his last seven years of beard trimmings in a plastic bag.

By rights, The Killers’ frontman’s solo career should probably see him doing something more off the wall than turning out glossy electropop that might have once rubbed shoulderpads with Go West on a mid-1985 edition of Top of the Pops.

Still, if second go-it-alone album The Desired Effect doesn’t stray too far from the tried and trusted formula that made his band, by his own estimation at least, “one of the best three of the last 15 years”, then that’s just fine by the British public, who have duly sent it to the top of the charts.

As we’ve come to expect from a man who’s never given much away we don’t learn a great deal during this uneven set. A highlights package of his latest album and its predecessor, 2010’s Flamingo, along with a few choice Killers cuts, it’s better when the tempo is kept high.

Can’t Deny My Love is a pleasing flurry of melodramatic Jan Hammer drum fills. Crossfire, his very first solo single, has worn well, while its strident horns and hook-filled chorus make Lonely Town the pick of his more recent material. The call and response earworm of Still Want You, meanwhile, bizarrely sounds ripe for a Disney soundtrack.

When things slow down, Flowers’ unwillingness to make deeper emotional investment in his subject matter starts to become a hindrance. The demolition of an old Las Vegas casino where his aunt worked isn’t exactly Tears in Heaven territory.

And where Manchester got a duet with New Order’s Bernard Sumner, Leeds greets a cover of Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible – which no one is quite sure if it’s meant as a local tribute to the Batley-born singer – with a collective shrug. A curiously underwhelming Mr Brightside has to be rescued by the crowd.

As ever, Flowers looks and sounds the part and the hits outweigh the misses. Much like the shiny skinny fit jacket he’s sporting, though, you’re left with the feeling that the night’s thrills owe more to surface sheen than genuine substance.