Brandon Flowers Warms Up New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom

Last night, former (current, perhaps, as their Christmas single was released this week) frontman of The Killers and now solo act, Brandon Flowers graced the stage of New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom last night for a sold-out and I mean, SOLD-OUT show. As in, the upper balcony was packed. Fans waited in the cold, some since 7:30am, to get a spot in the front for the General Admission section. It’s his last date before heading to Canada to perform, beginning this evening. It’s New York, in December!

Before anyone was graced by the Las Vegas showman’s presence, we had a real treat. The opening act was San Diego, California rock outfit Transfer, who I have never seen live and blew me away with their authentic, massive rock n’roll sound. Named as Q Magazine’s “10 New Faces of 2011,” this is a band that I expect to get everything they deserve and then some. Their sensible, alternative rock songs and stage presence made Hammerstein’s stage look small beneath them. I look forward to hearing more from this group in the future.

When Brandon Flowers arrived, the shrill, piercing vocals of thousands of women entered with him in unison. And while there is certainly a level of physical admiration for him, the same enamored audience also knew all of the lyrics to every song, even his cover of the song made famous by Kim Carnes‘ in 1981, “Bette Davis Eyes.” Whether it was Killers’ fans who picked up his solo release Flamingo or Brandon Flowers fans who found The Killers’ discography, I watched as they mouthed along, sometimes swept up in those larger-than-life moments myself. His fans, some stretching themselves thin against the barricade reaching for him, appeared on the verge of tears when his eyes met theirs. Brandon took some time to explain some of his tunes from the disc, from “Playing with Fire” to a soft-spoken version of his introductory tune on the album, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.” He took us on a musical journey through the highs and lows of the destitute, heartbroken and hopeful of Sin City for one hour and fifteen minutes.

Flowers CAN sing and it’s something that you couldn’t really tell on The Killers’ first record, Hot Fuss. That album, which returned 80′s styled, synth-fueled, dance rock to us, had Flowers’ vocals laid behind the instrumental heaviness of the band’s sound. Having seen The Killers in concert a few times, I knew that performance and presence was nothing to be concerned about. He was alwats graceful, jubilant and likeable. Brandon Flowers and Co. can put on a great show. but I was eager to hear him perform the songs from his record, to see and hear for myself if he could really stand-up as a solo artist.

Indeed, he can, and successfully. Even his take on classic Killers’ songs like “Losing Touch” off of Day & Age, and his closer, a slower tempo-ed “Mr. Brightside”that sounded very much like Stuart Price‘s aka Jacques Lu Cont’s “Thin White Duke Remix,” captivated me and the audience. Brandon Flowers is a frontman with an ego big enough to fill New York City, and the talent to back it up.