LOS ANGELES — Forget the Smiths and New Order, Killers singer Brandon Flowers drew from a much more vintage influence at the first of Saturday’s back-to-back shows: Charlie Chaplin.
Dapperly dressed in a black suit and bow tie (all he needs is the moustache), Flowers paced around the Wiltern LG stage with the robotic swagger of the great silent movie star, speaking not with his words, but his giant facial expressions.
All this was most likely lost on the 8 p.m. audience of teens and tweens (the band returned for a more adult-filled midnight show), but these Killers fans came more for the songs than the band anyway, and songs were delivered.
After taking the stage to Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” (one could argue Flowers also culls from the King, but we’ll leave it at Chaplin), the band launched into Hot Fuss opener “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” to ferocious fanfare and followed with two more favorites — the album’s next two tracks.
Most bands, especially those with only one album, like to spread their most popular songs out, but the Killers had something else in mind. In opening with “Jenny,” second single “Mr. Brightside” and third single “Smile Like You Mean It” (see “Killers’ To-Do List: Lawsuit, Long-Form Video, Beef With The Bravery” ), the band had grabbed listeners so tight they weren’t going anywhere.
It was a smart way to set up playing some new songs, although all three new tracks performed Saturday, especially “The Stereo of Lies,” were so infectious no strategy was needed. By the time the choruses of each tune came around for a second time, most of the theater was singing along.
“That’s always a good feeling to know that it’s that apparent, because you don’t ever want to lose that urgency about your songs,” a euphoric Flowers said Sunday before the Killers’ third and final sold-out Los Angeles show. The three tracks will likely turn up on the band’s next album, “Or, hopefully, we’ll write songs that are even better,” Flowers added.
With a Vegas-inspired “Killers” light blinking behind them, the band spent the later half of its show working through other album tracks like “Andy, You’re a Star” and “Everything Will Be Alright” mostly as they sound on the record.
Guitarist David Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer were so solid you only noticed they were there when Flowers marched up and sang to them or danced in their shadow. Drummer Ronnie Vannucci, on the other hand, was a separate show in and of himself, whether he was standing with one drumstick in the air or pounding so hard with both hands that his tie was flapping in his face.
After the jolt of hits at the start, “Somebody Told Me” seemed the logical encore, but once again, the band had other plans. The group’s breakthrough single, which had the hordes of girls in Killers tank tops screaming every word, came with a few songs to go.
For the encore, the band saved what will be its fourth single, “All These Things That I’ve Done.” During the song’s memorable bridge, Flowers climbed to the top of the drum platform and clapped to the beat while a spotlight shined on Keuning jamming the riff. Flowers then looked to the crowd for massive singalong of “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.”
Before the Killers, Canadian sisters Tegan and Sara opened the show with a set that meandered from Indigo Girls-like folk to That Dog-inspired indie rock.
While Flowers talked little to the crowd, Tegan and Sara were quite the opposite, jokingly dissing each other and complimenting the audience’s “choice of evening wear.” The ladies wisely saved their singles, “I Hear Noises” and “Walking With a Ghost,” for the end, when the venue was considerably packed.
The Killers’ tour, which launched last week, continues Tuesday in San Francisco (see “Killers To Kick Off Tour In April” ).
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.