Friday 2 December 2016

Brandon Flowers at Olympia Theatre review: 'a born-again pop star who could have walked straight out of 1985 Smash Hits annual'

Published 20/05/2015 | 10:11

Brandon Flowers performing during filming of the Graham Norton Show, at the London Studios, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 14, 2015. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Brandon Flowers performing during filming of the Graham Norton Show, at the London Studios, south London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 14, 2015. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Brandon Flowers The Desired Effect

Tall-haired, tanned and sporting blinding white loafers, Flowers strode onto the stage like a man with nothing to prove but still determined to make a point.

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What, exactly, he had to get off his chest was destined to remain a mystery – though it was apparently related to a belief that music never got better than the soundtrack to Flashdance and that we all really ought to bask in the genius of cornball '80s musical Footloose a little more often.

There was no irony here. In that respect the performance echoed the spirit of retro derring-do infusing The Killers singer's new solo album The Desired Effect – a record that easily trumpets the last several outings from his band (prompting murmurings that Flowers would be better off packing in the day job).

As frontman of the Las Vegas crew Brandon Flowers has always tempered his innate gift for honey-spun pop with a dutiful attachment to rock's tradition of grit and machismo (and, occasionally, a fealty to terrible facial hair).

In his capacity as solo artist, in contrast, he lets his flair for pop off the leash and, on The Desired Effect, the result is an irresistible mash-up of  chart cliches – glitter-ball stereotypes into which he breathes giddy new life.

To put it another way, the first date of his European tour was spray-painted with sonic cheese – and all the richer for it.

Swoonful new tracks Can't Deny My Love and Lonely Town were utterly sincere as they reached for cascading choruses; Killers standards such as Mr Brightside and Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine were remoulded in Flowers' present image: that of a born-again pop star who could have walked straight out of the 1985 Smash Hits annual. 

This may sound like a putdown. Flowers, however, would no doubt take the compliment in exactly the spirit it was intended.

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