Brandon Flowers, The Garage, London


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The Independent Culture

It is a strange thing, watching one of the very biggest pop stars in the world mere metres from the stage at one of London's smallest venues. And yet, it is happening: Brandon Flowers, sometime of the Killers, is performing his new solo album for the very first time to at most 500 people.

He can't have played to an audience this small in five years, but, touchingly, he still seems nervous, as though he's scared that after a raft of lukewarm reviews for the new album, he'll be playing his new stuff to thin-lipped silence and folded arms. He needn't have worried.

Showcase affairs like this are often a bit limp, groaning as they generally do with jaded industry types nattering loudly in the background. Tonight does not follow this template in the least: Flowers can barely get a lyric in edgeways for all the hysterical screaming. Hundreds of diehard fans are packed in at the front, singing all his new songs back at him and swooning at every flourish. It's not unlike Beatlemania. Someone has even brought an inflatable flamingo.

The man himself is as dapper as ever, his affable on-stage persona honed by years of straddling stadium crowds, and he duly ponces across his tiny stage like the young Bono he's always wanted to be.

Unkind critics might also suggest he finally has the sort of songs he needs to ascend to Bonohood. Certainly, he's just released his most FM radio-ready album yet, though it's much better than many reviews would have you believe. What's more, they pulsate on the night, as he unbinds his vocal cords and goes utterly for broke. It's perfect for an intimate show – though given Flowers' status, they won't be heard at many of those – but they'll work even better in the enormo-domes they were written for.

An acoustic "When You Were Young" is a nice touch for an encore – a kiss-off to loyal fans, who demonstrate their appreciation by completely drowning him out.