The Killers' Day &Age hasn't been as hot a seller as the quartet's first two efforts, butthere was no lack of enthusiasm among the crowd at last Sunday's packed show insupport of the album at New York City's Madison Square Garden. The punters wereloud, bouncy, and if the couple directly in front of me were any indication,quick to make out during a ballad. But despite all the positive mojo, BrandonFlowers and his fellow Las Vegans, drawing heavily on material from the newdisc, put on a strangely flat concert.
You can blame the mouthpiece. When I last saw the band play,they were at a small club gig in advance of 2006's Sam's Town. That was a straight-up bad night, mostly due toFlowers' obvious discomfort. He spent most of the concert standing rigid behindhis keyboard, looking vacantly into the crowd. Maybe he was nervous playing thethen-new songs--whose cinematic ambitions were cramped in the tiny space--buthe never gave off the vibe of having a good time.
He was clearly in a better frame of mind Sunday night.Taking the stage in his much-discussed feather-festooned jacket, Flowers was afar looser and more active performer. He strutted across the stage, jumped ontop of monitors, induced singalongs on crowd favorites like "All These ThingsThat I've Done" and "When You Were Young," and generally did everything youexpect a rock star at an arena show to do. But there were two problems: As apurely physical presence, Flowers is still lacking. He's got none of ChrisMartin's benevolent charm or Bono's inspiring charisma or Prince's polymathenergy. To paraphrase a song the band played, Flowers comes across far morehuman than dancer.
The other problem is deeper. Even though Flowers wasobviously happier to be on stage this time around (and said so multiple times),he never has those moments of abandon or loss of self-control that turn aconcert into something more than just a good time. There's a predictability tohis showmanship--fist pumps always cued to cymbal crashes, the carefullyapportioned amounts of time spent at each part of the stage, the obviouslycanned between-song patter. Even his movements are weirdly mechanical, likehe's always dancing some version of the Robot.
The concert did have its moments of ass-kickery though.Newer songs like the glammy "Neon Tiger" and funky "Joyride" sounded designedfor big stages, grand and brash. And like I said, Flowers has improved as afocal point, but if the Killers are ever going to be as important as he wantsit to be, he's still got some work to do.
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