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Vegas vs Victoriana

The Killers Royal Albert Hall, London SW7

Noah and the Whale Koko, London NW1

Like a Fabergé egg, London's Royal Albert Hall is a venue rigid with its own plushness. Tonight, though, Las Vegas arrives in Kensington - a garish spurt of kitsch, magic and theft.

Miniature potted palms, some real, some fake, dot the stage. A giant urn belches Belches may refer to:
  • Peter Belches, early explorer of Western Australia;
  • Point Belches, a geographic feature in the Swan River.
  • Belches, physical reactions to buildup of gas in the digestive tract.
 blooms. Brandon Flowers's keyboard stand is a jauntily listing lower-case 'k'. Flowers - the most metrosexual Metrosexual is a neologism generally applied to heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance, and who display many of the lifestyle tendencies of stereotypical gay men.  Mormon in rock - rocks a cropped jacket with furry epaulettes, then strips to a tight suit. He twitches like Ian Curtis modelling for Top Man as the strobes synch up with Ronnie Vannucci's drumbeats.

As though this glam Club Tropicana garden party weren't enough of a contrast to the architecture of privilege, the Killers' one-off London show begins like a rave. Pulsating turquoise lights herald the new single, 'Human'; its pumping dancefloor beats herald, in their turn, the return of a frothier, synthier Killers.

The Vegas band's imminent third album, Day & Age, finds them returning to the early Eighties pop of their debut, 2004's Hot Fuss. Gone are the dusty heartland vistas of the last record, Sam's Town. In their place, the mirrorball dynamics of producer Stuart Price, a synth synth  
1. Informal A synthesizer.

2. A style of light popular music made with synthesizers. Also called synth-pop.
 imp formerly of Les Rhythmes Digitales, A-list remix work, and Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor. Instead of Day & Age, this album should have been called Night & Youth, so far have the Killers retreated from the big statement music of Sam's Town into a party where anything - saxophones, reggae, alien abduction Abduction
Balfour, David

expecting inheritance, kidnapped by uncle. [Br. Lit.: Kidnapped]

Bertram, Henry

kidnapped at age five; taken from Scotland. [Br. Lit.
 - goes.

There's logic to the Killers' volte-face. America didn't like the band's weighty American record. Improbably, they liked the band better when they were neurotic Anglophile party people. Trouble is, although the Killers' new songs are certainly neurotic, they aren't all that much fun. 'Human' is efficient enough - a cheesy cheesy (che´ze) caseous.  dance remix of a strong pop song. There's more to savour on 'Losing Touch', a paranoid pile-up pile·up or pile-up  
1. Informal A serious collision usually involving several motor vehicles.

2. An accumulation: "the pile-up of unsold autos" 
 of U2 and Bowie in which Flowers, now a father to a toddler, bluffs, 'You go run and tell your friends I'm losing touch.'

But 'Joy Ride' is just a mess. On record, it sounds like Scissor scissor

pertaining to scissors; like scissors in effect.

scissor bite
see scissor bite.

scissor mouth
a narrow space between the rami of the mandible so that the molar arcades do not meet.
 Sisters galloping through 10cc's 'Dreadlock Holiday'. Live, the sax solos and rampant bongos test the audience's love to the limit. Flowers is kidnapped by aliens on 'Spaceman', a pacey pop song that transplants Bowie into the Cars.

Thank Vegas, then, for the Killers' back catalogue - a hits collection that is undeniably theirs but at the same time ingeniously pilfered from just about every band to ever grace a stadium (U2, the Cure, the E Street Band) and a few more besides.

'Mr Brightside' and 'All These Things That I've Done' are as mate-huggingly vital as you might expect. But it is the band's much-maligned second album that really bounces off the balconies tonight.

'For Reasons Unknown' is a secretly great song, and not just because the keyboard sighs shadow the melody of Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Tying up the encore is 'When You Were Young', Flowers's most billowing bil·low  
1. A large wave or swell of water.

2. A great swell, surge, or undulating mass, as of smoke or sound.

v. bil·lowed, bil·low·ing, bil·lows

 study of human nature. Hearing the band's three studio albums ranged against each other, Sam's Town emerges the winner, suiting both the Vegas schmaltz schmaltz also schmalz  
1. Informal
a. Excessively sentimental art or music.

b. Maudlin sentimentality.

2. Liquid fat, especially chicken fat.
 of the stage set and the grandeur beyond. The Killers' retreat into the disco might well prove a misguided retrenchment.

Flowers may be the most metrosexual Mormon in rock but Charlie Fink - frontman front·man  
1. also front man A man who serves as a nominal leader but who lacks real authority.

2. Music A leading singer with a group.
 of Noah And the Whale - is the opposite: a man concerned with love and death whose bearing suggests that talk of Jesus is imminent. You suspect his band would view hair gel with the puzzled horror of vicars being offered condoms.

Since their summer hit, '5 Years Time', things have gone quietly well for the band. They have toured the States and sold out tonight's London show. March promises a date at the 2,000-capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire, a ready-reckoner of a band having just about made it.

Tonight they are both riveting and irritating. The Whale are exuberant musicians, brandishing harmoniums and harmonies. They have all the fervour of Sufjan Stevens's big band, or even the Arcade Fire.

In Fink they boast a mighty songwriter whose gift for melody is bolstered by incisiveness and unflinching sincerity. For all the sunny fun of his best-known tune, there is plenty tonight to suggest a generation-defining bedsit bedsit or bedsitter

a furnished sitting room with a bed

Noun 1. bedsit - a furnished sitting room with sleeping accommodations (and some plumbing)
bedsitter, bedsitting room

But live, as on record, Fink is too much in thrall to the low horizons of New York anti-folk acts like the Moldy moldy

animal feed overgrown with fungus; the feed may be harvested and stored or be still in the ground.

moldy corn disease
see leukoencephalomalacia, fusariummoniliforme.
 Peaches or Jeffrey Lewis. Raised in Twickenham, Fink sings and speaks like an inveterate inveterate /in·vet·er·ate/ (-vet´er-at) confirmed and chronic; long-established and difficult to cure.

1. Firmly and long established; deep-rooted.

 indie consumer, never allowing his rich voice to deepen from nerdy mid-Atlantic self-effacement.

It's frustrating that, with Morrissey-hood or even Leonard Cohen-ness almost within grasp, Fink should choose to remain in the nursery of the Tower of Song.
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Date:Nov 9, 2008
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