Brandon Flowers Brings Sin City Sounds to L.A.

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Brandon Flowers / Photo by Torey Mundkowsky
WRITTEN BY
Kevin Bronson

On his solo debut album, Flamingo, Brandon Flowers articulates the dreams and desperation of Las Vegas with a voice that cuts like a beacon through the nighttime desert sky, and Wednesday at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, the Killers frontman wielded it with abandon.

What Flowers' turn lacked in breadth -- he performed barely over an hour -- it made up for in scale. Stylish in a trim vest and commanding the stage like a seasoned nightclub performer, the 29-year-old belted out his laments as if he were singing over jet engines, not a backing band.

After an opening set by Travis frontman Fran Healy, who played songs from his own solo debut, Wreckorder, armed with just his acoustic guitar, his fedora, and a trove of anecdotes, Flowers emerged, backed by a four-piece band plus two female backup singers, an ensemble that turned the twangy, gospel-tinged "Playing With Fire" into an arena-rock hurricane.

But despite the pomp (and the fact that Flowers is accustomed to playing arenas and festivals), the nuances in his solo songs had opportunity to shine through.

On "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas," inspired by the famous street sign arriving tourists take their photos next to, he boomed the line "Give us your dreamers, your harlots, and your sin," only to beautifully temper the verse's finisher, "The house will always win."

"Hard Enough," too, found just the right reflection when the singer conceded, "All I know is that I'm older now."

Flowers' vocal theatrics were best used during the encore, when he was joined by 67-year-old guitarist Andy Summers of the Police on a cover of the Vegas-appropriate hit "Roxanne."

Then, accompanied only by sideman Jake Blanton, he capped the evening with a tender acoustic rendition of the Killers' "When You Were Young," which felt like a comforting breeze to the 2,200 or so Killers fans who had come out to support their singer.

Setlist

  1. On the Floor
  2. Crossfire
  3. Magdalena
  4. Bette Davis Eyes
  5. Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts
  6. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
  7. Was It Something I Said?
  8. Hard Enough
  9. Losing Touch
  10. Swallow
  11. Only the Young
  12. Playing With Fire
  13. Roxanne
  14. When You Were Young
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