Now It’s Overhead, and The Zutons
Orlando, FL • 11/22/04
Back in May, when this show was originally scheduled, it was to be held at a tiny club with a maximum capacity of about 400 people. By August, the Killers popularity had skyrocketed so much that the show had to be rescheduled for a later date at a venue that can hold six times that amount. That’s quite an impressive feat for a band that just released their first album, Hot Fuss, last year. The Killers have won themselves quite a few fans, reaching the twentysomethings nostalgic for the ’80s, as well as the fresh-faced MTV crowd.
Before the headliners can give the crowd their dose of new wave revival, there are two opening bands to see. First up, fresh from their tour with their Athens, GA neighbors R.E.M., Now It’s Overhead take the stage. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Andy LeMaster not only looks like a young Michael Stipe with his bushy head of curly brown locks, but he has worked in the studio with the band in the past. Their sound is a common mixture of new wave, indie rock, and emo. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
The second band is from Liverpool, England. They’ve got some Beatles influence, but from the Psychedelic period. They are The Zutons, and they are fantastic! Creating a cross pollination of jazz, funk, and soul, their music is upbeat and danceable. Singer/guitarist David McCabe has got the John Lennon accent and a lot of vocal power, which is complemented with backing vocals by all four other band members, all of whom sound like experts of their particular instruments. Their skills are best demonstrated during their final song, a mostly instrumental number, which especially highlights drummer Sean Payne, whose speed and intricacy is more John Bonham than Ringo Starr. Throughout their 30 minute set, saxophonist Abi Harding never stops dancing around the stage. She looks like Alanis Morrissette on speed. This band not only plays unique music, but they’re fun to watch! After their set, they met with fans to sign copies of thier CD, Who Killed The Zutons?.
At 11:15pm the lights darken and the song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” comes out of the speakers. The crowd’s excitement build, but still the band waits to make their entrance. After the entire song is played, one by one The Killers come into sight. Under blue spotlights, they launch right into “Mr. Brightside” followed by “Smile Like You Mean It,” and I am imagining that this is what it must’ve felt like to see Duran Duran during their heyday. Singer Brandon Flowers appears confident enough to have the smooth swagger of a rock star, yet innocent enough to reveal his awe of their sudden stardom. His mannerisms are a bit Simon Le Bon, and a bit Robbie Williams.When not behind his rhinestone-studded keyboards, Flowers spends the majority of his time on the edge of the stage, close to the crowd. He gets ever so close, but doesn’t reach out to the hands that extend towards him. Is he holding back on purpose, or is he still adjusting to this new found adoration? It seems to be part of the game. To keep the audience wanting more, and it works.
As for the rest of the band, bassist Mark Stoermer is well over 6 ft. tall and looks cool just by standing there. On drums is the happiest looking bundle of energy you could hope to find, Ronnie Vanucci. He smiles large throughout his exuberant performance, exaggerating his movements and often standing as he plays. Guitarist David Kenning looks like Marc Bolan of T. Rex; perhaps it’s from him that the bit of glam rock influence comes in. A lot of British influence you’ll notice. This makes a lot of sense because the Brits love them! They’ve been winning awards left and right overseas.
Just 45 minutes into their performance, Flowers says “It goes by so fast… This is our last song.” You can feel the 2,500 people in attendance look at their watches and say “what?” The band finishes their song, exits, and returns minutes later to do 2 encores. The final song ends up being, perhaps, their greatest, “All These Things That I’ve Done.” It is 12:05 am and the show is over. The lights come up and the song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” comes on once more. This time, with the crowd clearing the floor, people sing along and even dance.A mere 50 minute set. It is an unusually short amount of time for a headlining act to perform, but when you consider the fact that they have one album to pull songs from, it’s somewhat excusable. Of The Killers I can say this, if their sophomore album has as much heart and energy as their first, this band could be headed for large venues very soon… with, hopefully, longer sets. See them now while you can still get close.