At Killers concert, Brandon Flowers proves himself a frontman for the ages


Brandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. of The Killers perform at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA. The band is touring behind their latest album, Battle Born, which debuted at number 3 in the US on the Billboard 200. (Kyle Gustafson/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
December 19, 2012

As surely as fighters fight, the Killers indeed killed at the Patriot Center on Tuesday.

The radio smashes from the Las Vegas-bred band’s back catalogue — most notably up-tempo, keyboard-heavy glam-pop hits “Mr. Brightside,” “When You Were Young” and “Somebody Told Me” — predictably had the sold-out arena ready to blow. But with vocalist Brandon Flowers proving himself to be a frontman for the ages, so did every other song on the set list.

Several Killers shows were canceled last week because of Flowers’s reported case of laryngitis, but there was no hint of illness in this performance. Flowers, with a short, slick coif normally found only in 1960s yearbook photos and vintage Brylcreem commercials, flaunted the physical fitness of a prizefighter and the charisma of a pro wrestler. In an all-black ensemble anchored by a pair of high-top leather shoes, he worked every inch of the stage with a light-footed bounce, the way Sugar Ray Leonard once worked the ring. Even when the lyrics got fantastical (“Saw Cinderella in a party dress,” he sang on “A Dustland Fairytale”), Flowers sold every word with all the sincerity with which Ric Flair sold head-butts.

The recently recorded heartland rockers “The Way It Was” and “Runaways” were earnest tales of young and reckless love that could have come from Bruce Springsteen or Meatloaf. (Brendan O’Brien, Springsteen’s frequent studio boss, produced both songs on the Killers’ latest album.) By the third chorus of each, Flowers had fans wanting nothing more than for these songs to go on all night.

The energy flagged only when Flowers introduced his band with a sweet speech for each member. It was a very nice gesture, because for the rest of the set, these guys were basically invisible, as anybody sharing the stage with Flowers would be. The band’s Vegas roots oozed out at the end of the show as lasers, dancing spotlights and confetti made the scene during “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine.” All were superfluous. So long as Flowers fronts this band, the Killers don’t need accessorizing.


Brandon Flowers of The Killers performs at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA. (Kyle Gustafson/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

McKenna is a freelance writer.

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