Flowersmania hits the Irish Republic in a thrilling taster of what to expect on the ShockWaves NME Awards Tour…
Across the road from the Olympia Theatre is Dublin Castle, tonight a secure fortress as high society gathers to celebrate the inauguration of Ireland’s President Mary McAleese. The Gardai would have been better deployed outside the Theatre, though, as an Arafat funeral-sized crowd try to break into the only show in town. At times, it looks like they’re part of the biggest hen party Dublin has ever seen.
Inside, NME has not seen female adoration on this scale since Shaggy shook his boombastic stick a couple of years ago. Then it was women of a certain age dreaming of a quick roll in the hay before the next day’s shift at Tesco. Tonight, goggle-eyed indie chicks and sharp-beaked 30-something fashionistas propel themselves towards the stage with force, eager to see frontman Brandon Flowers up close, to feel his sweat drip on them. He sends out strong pheromones.
A mixture of mascara’d pretty-boy pixie and Michael Stipe weirdness, Flowers has a supreme confidence that sees him do little onstage while effortlessly commanding it. The rest of The Killers try to have a moment in the sun. Dave Keuning attempts to catch the eye by changing guitar for every single song – he has an articulated truck just for his equipment. Bassist Mark Stoermer looks gauche and stares moodily into space while drummer Ronnie Vannucci stands up a lot. None of this matters – The Killers might be a tight-knit unit, but onstage the other members are incidental to the Brandon Flowers show.
When he sings, “You’ve got a real short skirt/I’m gonna look up” on the Duran Duran-touched ‘Midnight Show’, people of both genders appear to orgasm. The end of the song is met with post-coital sighs. Sadly, in the newly smoking-banned Irish Republic, no-one is able to light a cigarette.
Flowers aside, there’s also a small matter of some brilliant tunes. ‘Mr Brightside’ remains one of the tracks of the year, new wave-angular and totally fresh. Like all the singles The Killers work through, it’s greeted with hysteria. At times it’s tough to hear the band over the screams.
During the insistent refrain of “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” on ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, The Killers generate the same fist-in-the-air spirit as their heroes Oasis. But this is something they find difficult to maintain. They just don’t have enough songs to hit highs constantly. There is filler here – The Cure-inspired dark synth-pop of ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ is never going to get the juices flowing – because they’ve come a long way very quickly.
“It’s been unbelievable,” a shell-shocked but happy Flowers will tell NME after the show. “A year ago, we’d just signed a record deal. So much has happened since then – Britain has been so good to us. We couldn’t ask for anything more – we feel really lucky and happy.”
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The Killers have another few months coasting on their debut album and on Flowers power. If they are to become a band with legs and not just a well-tailored flavour of the month, the new songs – set to be unveiled on the ShockWaves NME Awards Tour – need to stand up. If they are a patch on the best here, then The Killers will slay the competition.