It's easy to see why Brandon Flowers has made his enemies. Whether it's his slew of criticisms of other bands or his aloof mannerisms, Flowers has a track record of exuding a certain degree of elitism. And such haughtiness was on display last Monday night when The Killers came to a sold-out Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines. Between donning the typical formal wear and the contrived prancing on stage, the reputation that had preceded the lead singer was quite evident.
But that's showmanship.
After all, The Killers are a synth-rock band who hail from the City of Sin. It is only fitting that a group arising out of that musical context would be expected to perform with spunk and overconfidence. The ladies loved it: whether getting groovy on the ballroom floor or screaming sweet nothings at the stage while straddling the shoulders of their boyfriends of reality.
The band began the first half of their set by exhausting a good portion of the singles off latest album Sam's Town. Under normal conditions, such a choice may have seemed ill conceived, but considering the venue's air temperature was well over 100 degrees, it served as subtle gratitude for the fans' dedication at putting up with the preceeding hour and a half's worth of heat. (Nobody wants to put up with deep-track filler after spending 90 minutes melting away). 'When You Were Young' was belted with almost studio-like precision and 'Read My Mind' was performed with brilliant passion. Local Iowa native Dave Keuning strummed the axe with a stunning presence reminiscent of a 70s stadium rocker and drummer Ronnie Vannucci slammed the skins with an eruption of energy Every. Single. Time.
After taking a 15 minute intermission to cool off, The Killers returned with a renewed stage presence, digging into tracks from debut long player Hot Fuss. 'Mr. Brightside' was met with intense celebration from the crowd, while the defining line from 'All These Things That I've Done:'---"I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier"--held unspoken significance given America's current geopolitical situation. 'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine' retained its dramatic kick. 'Smile Like You Mean It' evoked its signature feelings of emptiness. All in all, the defining qualities that made Hot Fuss a modern classic were effectively brought to the final half of the show.
With a true encore, the band turned the amps up to 11, performing 'When You Were Young' once again, but with more fervor than they had only two hours previously. By this time, having perspired into one lukewarm mass, everybody in the crowd was singing their heart out in unison with Flowers, desperately holding on to every last moment before the show inevitably came to an end:
"We’re burning down the highway skyline on the back of a hurricane that started turning when you were young."
The Killers were in great form on Monday, May 14th, 2007. An Iowa native was welcomed home, and this fan went back to the ranch singing every song.
Now that's showmanship.
The Killers - 'Read My Mind'
The Killers - 'When You Were Young'