Review/Blog: Brandon Flowers at the Stone Pony – Dec 1st, 2010

This is not really a “review” of the show, but more of a journal of the “James & Jackie Experience” of the Brandon Flowers show last night.

Well, it’s the beginning of the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate than with Brandon Flowers of the band The Killers right? What, you don’t celebrate Christmas season with the Killers in your house? But my beautiful wife Jackie tells me everyone does it! (FYI Jackie is celebrating her birthday today so feel free to wish her well in the comments – Happy Birthday sweetheart!)

I’m joking of course, but it was a way to tell you that every year on World AIDS day, The Killers put out a Christmas song and video where all the profits go to fighting AIDS… So yesterday (December 1st 2010), they released their newest Christmas song “Boots” at fine establishments everywhere. I picked my copy up on ITunes and it’s actually a pretty good song that I recommend you getting (or at least watching the equally good video) – The money goes to a good cause so it’s a win-win situation.

The “Boots” video link is at: http://www.starbucks.com/share/#/the-killers – Supposedly every viewing make STARBUCKS/RED contribute a nickel to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa.

The other thing is that my wife likes the Killers. I mean she REALLY likes them – almost bordering on obsession. as I mentioned in an old Blog , if Jackie had to choose between me and lead singer Brandon Flowers, I’d be worried.  Please see the August 2008 blog where Brandon Flowers checked out my wife’s boobs.

Mr. Flowers is doing a solo tour now, and he happened to come to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ last night. You may know the Stone Pony from when the band I managed called The RiffSurfers played there a couple of summers back or probably more likely from a little known New Jersey-ite named Bruce Springsteen

The Stone Pony is a great venue to see big acts. Its relatively small and intimate, and usually when acts play there they hang out and take pictures and sign autographs. I’ve seen some great acts there such as the aforementioned RiffSurfers, my pal Larry Kirwan and Black 47, The Smithereens, and the New York Dolls to name a few.

So when my wife’s obsession Brandon Flowers came to Asbury Park, the day before her birthday, you know I was gonna be there… Plus it was a Wednesday night in the middle of the holiday season down the shore for a “little known” solo act of a band that’s popular in a certain population – so I figured if 20-30 people came out that would be a lot. And Jackie could meet the dude, get a picture and maybe an autograph.

Boy did I underestimate the selling power of Brandon Flowers! Last night we drove down to Asbury Park, and got an early whiff of my mistake in judgment when parking was a little difficult. Asbury Park in winter is a normally a pretty desolate place – but tonight we had to park a few blocks away..

As we got closer to the Stone Pony, we saw a line and heard the guys at the door yelling that tickets were SOLD OUT… We got in and the place WAS PACKED — and this was a little after 7:30pm when the doors had just opened! My thoughts of Jackie meeting Brandon were shot, so we just settled in and watched the show.

The Stone Pony stage (which is big for a 4-5 piece band, but relatively small for more than that) was packed with instruments and the technicians were deftly dodging instruments. So it looked like there was going to be a big band there tonight. 8:30pm arrived and a bunch of musicians hit the stage, and one question was answered. The instruments for both Brandon’s set, and the opening act called Transfer were onstage.

Transfer started playing and they were actually pretty good. Little on the heavy side, but that’s a good thing for me – but not for the teeny boppers there to see Brandon… See video here . During their set, they mentioned they were from San Diego which Jackie and I appreciated as our few-years-in-the-future residence. They also had a cool microphone that looked like the radio announcer mic from the 40s and had the same effect on it… Check them out if you get a chance…

Around 9:15pm, their set ended and the Stone Pony techs started tearing down their instruments which seemed to take forever even tho it was only like 15-20 minutes. We’d been standing in a pretty packed crowd for two hours already, and I know I was getting cranky.

At 9:35pm (Sorry for the time details, but there was a clock onstage and there wasn’t much else to do but watch it change), the techs were done, and the stage was ready. The side door opened and Brandon and his musicians rushed the stage and started right in.

I was not a fan of his solo album prior to the show, so I don’t really know the song names… But it was an enjoyable set – I’ve become a fan  and have been listening to the album on my iPhone for most of this morning.  Some favorites are Crossfire, Magdalene, Clocks-a-Tickin’, and Jacksonville.

At one point, he was talking to the audience and mentioned that the Stone Pony was home to a particular celebrity, and everyone’s eyes darted to the side door to see if Bruce Springsteen was coming through. Brandon kinda chuckled and said that he was going to sing one of his favorite Bruce songs – Promised Land – And while we were disappointed that we weren’t about to witness one of those legendary Bruce sightings, Brandon did a pretty good job at it.

Click here for video of last night’s version of Brandon singing Bruce’s “Promised Land”

I’d like to take this moment to mention how intimate this crowd had become… If I thought the crowd was tight for the opening act, I was shocked to see how crowded it would become during Brandon’s show. After the second song, the crowd surged forward and I literally did not have any room TO RAISE BOTH ARMS TO CLAP… I kept Jackie in front of me so that I could move one arm to take pictures without groping a total stranger.

I needn’t have worried about such modesty. The total strangers around us had no problem groping each other including me…

In our little section we had our share of characters.

  • The couple next to us were pretty grabby from the get-go. I was betting that they would be fighting by the end of the show (very common show theme – the more publicly affectionate people are, the more likely to get into a drunken fight). They didn’t go ththe drunk-fighter path because getting to the bar was difficult in this crowd.But they decided to “just do it” — literally.   I noticed (aka “felt”) they were grinding a lot. Jackie told me afterwards that she saw the dude lift up the girl’s tiny skirt, and she thinks he might have “pulled it out” and was actually having sex there. Being that I was getting jostled by their grinding, that means (ewwwwww) that I was part of a three-way with them… I’m trying not to think about that any more.
  • The nerdy brunette girl to our left was pretty sane, but at one point, she ended up directly between Jackie and me. I’m not sure how this happened since I had my hands resting on Jackie’s hips because I had nowhere else to put them… But somehow this magical girl ended up directly in front of me.
  • The obnoxious horny blond who pushed her way between me and the nerdy brunette girl at one point.  She pushed her way up and started yelling “BRANDON!” and waving every time he looked our way.  I mean this wasn’t normal waving either… She was waving her arms and doing the Pogo dance at one point, and then doing a corkscrew wiggle up and down at other points… (keep in mind, i had no room to clap) At one point she punched Jackie and said “Isn’t this fun?” – Jackie just looked at her as if she was nuts and went back to watching the show.
  • The last person in our 3-foot-diameter section is the one who disturbed me the most. I didn’t see who it was because I couldn’t really turn around, but this person was directly behind me and I could swear they were “vibrating” – I’m hoping it was a girl, or there was a logical explanation, but it’s still kinda freaking me out.

At the second-to-last song, the band left the stage (without any introduction throughout the entire show) and went outside thru the side door. Brandon then brought out some bearded guy with an acoustic guitar and said this is “Jeff from Kansas” (or some name/state) and they started playing the acoustic version of “When We Were Young” from the Killers… After the last lyric, Brandon waved to the crowd and ran out the side door, while the bearded guy played the rest of the song.. He finished, and the crowd waited for an encore, but none were coming… The techs came out and the crowd realized the show was over and left.

Click here for video of last nights acoustic “When We Were Young”

We eventually made it out of the Stone Pony and it was FREEZING out there.. We walked by the tour buses to see if Brandon might come out, but it didn’t look like it was happening, and it was cold, so we just walked the few blocks to the car and headed home…

Overall, it was a good night… I had some pretty unrealistic expectations about the crowdedness situation and Brandon Flowers willingness to go above and beyond for his fans (Like Black 47 and the Smithereens have done before). But Jackie didn’t mind at all – she was happy to be there really close to the stage while her hero played… So that’s pretty much all that’s important to me…

On a side note, if you got to this part of the blog, you seem to either like my writing or you like Brandon Flowers a lot.   I have written a book called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and if you want a signed copy http://Lantern-Media.com/signedbooks

I am also appearing at the Museum of the American Gangster on 80 St Marks Place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Thursday December 16th, 2010 at 6pm. I will be hosting an Evening with the Ducky Boys Gang which will include readings of the book by me and ex-Ducky Boy Kevin Byrne. There will also be a multimedia presentation with other members of the gang, and a Q&A session afterwards. I will be signing books, and there will be a tour of the museum which I recommend because the museum is very cool if you like to hear about gangsters

Thanks for reading – Please leave comments, and let me know what you think…. There are also options at the top of this blog to “like” it or share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc – Feel free…

-=James Hannon

Pictures from the show… There are better titled ones on my Facebook page at:
http://www.facebook.com/lanternmedia – feel free to “add me” if you haven’t already…

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