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Is Brandon Flowers Better Off Without The Killers?

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance

With a marquee-worthy moniker like Brandon Flowers and an outsized personality to match, it was probably only a matter of time before the Killers' seemingly megalomaniacal frontman opted to go solo. And of course, he did so in the most Flowery way possible: in a million-dollar music video, "Crossfire," that resembled a CGI-addled Michael Bay action flick and starred A-list thespian Charlize Theron.

So naturally, when the man who once infamously claimed "the Killers could be bigger than U2" played a paparazzi-swarmed solo gig at Los Angeles's Troubadour club on August 17, I expected an entirely unsubtle undertaking, a showcase of unchecked ego and OTT anthems that'd make the over-ambitious bloat-rock of Sam's Town seem positively quaint.

Yes, full disclosure here: I headed to the Troub with intentions to mock Sir Flowers. But my plans were totally thwarted, because I didn't expect that a) Brandon's songs would be better than anything the Killers have released since Hot Fuss, b) his new tunes would be "a little bit more mellow," and c) Brandon's personality would be mellower too, with him coming across as a downright nice and approachable fellow, bantering unpretentiously with the intimate audience in between numbers. He really seemed to have a new lease on life as a solo artist.

Taking the stage in a refreshingly non-diva-esque manner (right on the dot at the advertised 9pm set time; dressed in a plain shirt and vest and a minimal mustache; playing "Crossfire" only two songs in; only performing one Killers tune, the lesser-known Day & Age track "Losing Touch"), the apparently reformed pomp-popper played a low-key, encore-free, 45-minute set, sweetly smiling throughout. And there wasn't an unsmiling face in the club when he introduced one number with, "If you don't like this song, something's wrong with you," before tearing into an unexpectedly delightful yet unironic cover of Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes."

Based on the new material Brandon played this evening--a sort of hybrid of Hot Fuss's shiny pop and Day & Age's Springsteenian rustic rock--I'll say his upcoming solo album, Flamingo, is what Sam's Town SHOULD have sounded like. I was truly impressed, as were most of the Angelenos shoehorned into the sold-out Troubadour.

Good job, Brandon Flowers. And don't go back to your day job any time soon.

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