Sunday, 21 June 2015

Brandon Flowers at Brixton Academy, London - 21/05/2015

In terms of venues, I have been spoilt by my last two live music events, both of which have taken place in intimate settings with strong acoustics, adding to my overall enjoyment of the gig-going experience. Although Brixton Academy boasts an impressive interior and thriving atmosphere, it is, at times, notable for its muddy sound, an attribute that was present, but didn't detract from the dynamic horns of Brandon Flowers' set opener, 'Dreams Come True' - the first track from latest release, The Desired Effect. Within moments however, any less than clear acoustics seemed to either subside or go unnoticed, as lead single 'Can't Deny My Love' gained full crowd investment and set the standard for a gig that fully embraced Flowers' solo work, while also touching upon a few Killers classics.

The release of The Desired Effect makes for a refreshing addition to Flowers' repertoire, and the eclectic feel of the 80's inspired songs were further enhanced in a live setting due to an impressive eight-piece band. Along with the set's opening two tracks, other key moments from the current album included the gospel / synth infused 'I Can Change' and 'Between Me and You', in which Flowers was joined on stage by Chrissie Hynde, with the pair also duetting on The Pretenders' 'Don't Get Me Wrong'.

Flowers' last tour - in support of 2010 debut Flamingo - seemed sparse at times, and with shows based entirely on the ten short but sweet tracks from that album, Flowers' turned to Killers songs and cover versions to fill sets. This time round, the set flowed more naturally, with the Flamingo material - 'Crossfire' and 'Only The Young' being the most memorable - generously slotted around the new songs. 

Though Flowers' solo work should be viewed as a separate entity, comparisons to the Killers are inevitable, and from a crowd perspective, there was a running sense of urgent longing for his band's material throughout the gig. While re-worked versions of Hot Fuss classics such as a stripped-down 'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine' and the Jacques Lu Cont Remix of 'Mr. Brightside' may not have fully satisfied fans who were solely in attendance for Killers material, Sam's Town's anthemic 'Read My Mind' more than compensated to became an overall set highlight.

The Desired Effect sets a fine balance which sees Flowers boldly evolving musically, without completely straying from the synth-led, stadium-rock that initially shaped the success of the Killers - a quality that not only suggests promise for future solo releases, but will most likely draw new fans as his career progresses, without alienating longtime Killers supporters.

'Dreams Come True'
'Can't Deny My Love'
'Hard Enough'
'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine'
'Lonely Town'
'I Can Change'
'Read My Mind'
'Swallow It'
'Only the Young'
'Mr. Brightside'

'Don't Get Me Wrong'
'Between Me and You'
'Still Want You'
'The Way It's Always Been'