Core members Andy McCluskey (bass, keys and vocals) and Paul Humphreys (keys and vocals) formed the seminal boundary-pushing synth-pop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark—or OMD—40 years ago in North West England. They broke into the American mainstream when “If You Leave” was featured at the end of Pretty in Pink in the mid-’80s. But by 1996, OMD (above, performing “The Punishment of Luxury” live in studio for WNYC FM) would call it quits, which is where this story would end if McCluskey and Humphreys hadn’t reunited, along with Martin Cooper (keys and sax) and Stuart Kershaw (drums), in 2006. And although they could’ve relied on their deep catalog of 10 LPs at that point, essentially as a legacy act, instead they’ve continued to push forward, making new acclaimed music every few years. Their 13th studio full-length, The Punishment of Luxury (stream it below), arrived last September to considerable plaudits across the globe. “Synth-pop at its most charming and effortless,” proclaimed the Irish Times. “The band can conjure up melodies so familiar they feel like greatest hits. It’s an album so full of stylish pop perfection it would make Brandon Flowers weep into his silky pillow. While the A.V. Club added: “OMD examine the complications of progress on the sparking The Punishment of Luxury.” Back in the United States, OMD play Terminal 5 on Saturday night.
Tag Archives: Brandon Flowers
The Killers – Barclays Center – January 9, 2018
Longevity in the music industry isn’t guaranteed, nor is a song that stays on the charts 13 years after its release. The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” was the track that remained on the U.K. charts, and Noisy hypothesized a few theories why that might have been. It’s no surprise that frontman Brandon Flowers cited the U.K. as what broke their band during a time when the Strokes and the White Stripes ruled America. After more than 15 years of music together, the Las Vegas band released their fifth album, Wonderful Wonderful, last year to the glee of longtime fans. With guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer taking time off touring for family and to finish up college, longtime collaborators guitarist Ted Sablay and bassist Jake Blanton entered the lineup in their stead. Despite the change to the original quartet, the Killers didn’t skip a beat at a sold-out Barclay Center last night.
The stage converted into mirrored pyramid screens resembling an open shell perfectly displaying the band for the opener, the new LP’s title song. The staging played a big part in the performance with pink confetti showering the crowd during “The Man,” as old-timey neon Vegas signage projected in the backdrop. Flowers seamlessly weaved old favorites “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It” among more recent hits “Run for Cover” and “Shot at the Night.” He reminisced on the passing of the 10th anniversary of Sam’s Town, in which the Killers played to 1,500 people at the hotel/casino that provided the album’s name. The quartet covered Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” as an interlude before the appropriately paired “Runaways.”
Throughout the show, I marveled at hit after hit, especially my favorite, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” which I dare anyone to not chime in on the infectious chorus, “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” Flowers returned to the stage having changed into a gold suit and matching boots, as if channeling Elvis himself. With a recorded opening monologue by Woody Harrelson, the ageless singer climbed the stairs encoring with the downtown romp “The Calling.” It would not end there, rather deep cut “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and the rousing “When You Were Young” were played before the closing song. You guessed it: the hit that managed to top the charts for over a decade. —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Barclays Center, Brandon Flowers, Brooklyn, Dave Keuning, Dire Straits, Elvis Presley, Jake Blanton, Killers, Mark Stoermer, New York City, Review, Sam’s Town, Sharlene Chiu, Strokes, Ted Sablay, White Stripes, Wonderful Wonderful, Woody Harrelson
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The Killers – Prudential Center – August 8, 2013
Until their show at the Prudential Center last night, I had never seen the Killers live and in person, but boy the past decade has treated them well. The show kicked off with the short piano song “Enterlude,” lead singer Brandon Flowers welcoming everyone in the arena: “We hope you enjoyed your stay/ It’s good to have you with us/ Even if it’s just for the day.” The band then launched right into the flashiest moment of the set, megahit “When We Were Young,” just as they do on the album Sam’s Town, only this time to thousands of people under a shower of golden pyrotechnics. Sure, there was one more pop of pyro later, as well as the usual arena-band touches like lasers and a spotlight drum solo, but the quartet still tries to work a room like it’s a small club.
If the Killers proved anything in the following two hours, it was that they’ve evolved into less of a cookie-cutter arena act and are more of a group still somehow on the rise. During brasher songs, like “Bling (Confession of a King),” you could see rough edges around the performance that many big bands wouldn’t allow—like an out-of-breath Flowers (thanks to his constant wandering and hopping around the stage) or spotting a fan they knew and calling him out by name to thank him for coming.
Speaking of the fans, it was noticeable that different parts of the arena were filled with people who had come into the band during different album cycles, as cheering allegiances were split during some songs. Still, older tunes like “Somebody Told Me” or newer ones like “Human” united them all, while anthems like “Spaceman” showed how they’d also fit right at home in an 80,000-person stadium. It all clicked during “Moon River,” which Flowers jokingly prefaced: “You know the motto of our hometown, right? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? We are proving that sumbitch wrong every night.” The Killers are on a mission to bring some of who they are and where they’re from to a different town each night, and they do it extremely well. —Sean O’Kane
Brandon Flowers (vocals and keys), Dave Keuning (guitar and vocals), Mark Stoermer (bass and vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums and vocals) made an almost instant splash with the release of the first Killers album, the ’80s-influenced, New Wave-ish Hot Fuss, in 2004. With plenty of tunes to sing along with or dance along to, the music was called “big, bold and confident” by BBC Music. And Rolling Stone ranked it as the 43rd best album of the entire decade. The ensuing tour in support of the Hot Fuss put the Killers (above, performing “Mr. Brightside” this year at Lollapalooza Brazil) on the map as a band not to miss when they come to your town. And it’s a playbook the Las Vegas quartet has stuck with ever since: put out an album every few years and then steadily tour behind it for a few more years. In 2012, the Killers released their fourth album, Battle Born (stream it below)—the phrase appears on Nevada’s state flag—which instantly seemed perfectly suited for an arena. This works out great because, still out on the road, the Killers play the Prudential Center tomorrow night.
The Killers – Webster Hall – July 23, 2012
To watch the Killers in 2012 is an act of disjointed historical remembrance. This sort of anachronism isn’t simply a product of the band’s ability to resurrect the musical genres of everyone from Joy Division to Springsteen. Because these days, the Killers turn backward twice, using old influences with a wink and trying to escape and revive the songs that made them stupidly famous in 2004. It was then that the opening five songs of their debut LP, Hot Fuss, were as ambitious and outstanding as any popular rock album of the previous decade not made by the Strokes. This is and was the past, before the band nearly broke up, before the litany of solo records that take us up to present day. This sold-out crowd in the East Village would serve as the rough approximation of now, or the scene of where we might figure out the dimensions of the word. The Killers, four guys who wanted to lionize and transcend Las Vegas, the most anachronistic place on the planet, arrived at Webster Hall with a new single, “Runaways,” and a forthcoming new album, Battle Born, rich with the interstitial tension over whether to dig up or completely bury the past.
Appropriate to this dichotomy, the band opened with “Runaways” followed by their first American radio single, “Somebody Told Me.” The packed crowd was in full throat on the night’s third song, “Smile Like You Mean It,” before lead singer Brandon Flowers asked, “Are you guys in or are you out?” perhaps unaware that these fans had either passed up or taken advantage of the huge scalping price on the secondary market. For those who passed on the urgent, big offers in the line outside, they were, most definitely, in by the time Flowers climbed his stage monitor to shout the lyrics of “Spaceman.” It only served to raise the stakes, as the band oscillated from older material, like “This Is Your Life,” and new-album cuts, like “Miss Atomic Bomb,” full of future tense fatalism—Flowers soaring on the lyric “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
The main set concluded with the Hot Fuss long-form anthem, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” arriving at this denouement by way of “Reasons Unknown,” “Bling (Confessions of a King),” “Human” and the band’s first UK single from 2003, “Mr. Brightside.” But it was the present perfect tense of “All These Things That I’ve Done” that suitably served as the ending for a band standing on the very fulcrum of itself. Those in the crowd screamed the meaningless and perfect bridge, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier,” along with Flowers, a slice of 2004 in 2012, these things we’ve done acting as a beacon for whatever it is that comes next. —Geoff Nelson