But I want to dial this back a bit. Back to Monday, when HMV decided to announce a CD signing by none other than a certain Mr Flowers. First 300 people to buy the CD in store get in. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to the brand new assistant Tom, who had started work about an hour previously. “I’m sorry”, I told him, trying to retain the last vestiges of my professionalism, “I have an emergency, I need to go to HMV, I’ll be back in an hour.” And so I sprinted to the tube, and whiled the thing to hurry up as it carried me toward Oxford Street. I dashed out of Bond Street station breathlessly, threw myself into HMV and stared around like a mad woman. Where is it??? The precious CD was located, and I speed walked to the counter. Keepin’ it cool. “Can I still get the wristband for the signing?” The cashier frowned at me. “I dunno. Some guy came in earlier talking about a wristband too. Go upstairs and ask them.” The answer was yes, I could (definitely) still get a wrsitband, and I pegged it back to work safe in the knowledge that come Friday, I’d be meeting Brandon Flowers. Meeting. Brandon. Flowers. I sent out a slew of Whatsapp messages decorated with crying emojis. I was meeting Brandon Flowers. Hey, I had to take full advantage of this tour - the first one and probably last time I’d be in the thick of things to experience a defining moment for my favourite artist.
Inside, I was happy to choose a spot near the sound desk. With three more shows after this one, easing into things was surely best. One noisy support act later, we were itching for the main man to take to the stage. By the time the lights dimmed, I’d still not managed to re-attached the string that grounds me it’s really happening, he’s really here. And then the music started up, and I lost myself in it. Punch the clock, baby on the nightstand I sang like no one was watching, and surely they were not. Decked out in a golden jacket, Brandon was a vision. A consummate showman, a born and bred musician. It’s gonna be alright, you’re a performer. Somehow the entire crowd knew the words to Can’t Deny My Love, but it was Crossfire that sent me over the edge. This was the song I’d had a poster of in my lounge for the past three years. This was the song I’d brainwashed all my friends into liking in 2010. This was what I’d first heard on World Cup kick-off day, this was the song I’d tweeted East Coast Radio about daily, and screamed when they’d finally played it. This song was my first indication that Brandon would never let me down musically. Magdalena came with a chat, and the first surprise was Hard Enough. You let me into your life on a whim…Isn’t that true of everyone? The acoustic version of Jenny Was A Friend of mine was haunting, and by the end of Lonely Town, we’d all started doing the graviton dance. I Can Change is not a favourite of mine, but live it worked out well, and Brandon followed it up with another Killers cover - this time Read My Mind. And who doesn’t love Read My Mind?
Exit Brandon. Cue screaming. Cue more screaming.
If anyone was waiting for a surprise, this was it. Out pops Brandon for the encore, and then out pops Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders to join him. I’d never seen such joy on a man’s face (until the Bernard Sumner incident of May 24th, but we’ll get to that). Brandon and Chrissie performed ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’, complete with the most adorable dance moves possible, then she joined him in a beautiful duet of ‘Between Me and You’.
“I’ve shared a lot of myself with you over the past 12 years.” Brandon says after Chrissie leaves. “And… I’m probably going to embarrass her, but you’ve got to thank her for sharing me… come on our here.” A collective 5000 people held their breath as Brandon’s wife Tana and two oldest sons made their way onto the stage. She waved shyly to massive applause. “This one’s for you” … Brandon launched into Still Want You to shouts of ‘Awwww’ from the Victims. It was the first time we’d ever seen her in real life.
The Way It’s Always Been is one of my personal highlights of the album, but ended the show on a slightly melancholy note. Hey, maybe that’s what he was going for.
For me, there was no time to be melancholy - I fought my way through the crowd and pegged it to the stage door, where I was joined by Alice and Daisy for the long wait. By 11pm it was freezing, the adrenaline comedown had me shaking terribly, and I was considering leaving to make it back to the tube before it shut. Every time the stage door opened it was Brandon…. but it wasn’t. The small crowed began to disperse, leaving about 20 of us die hards to harass the security guard (“Orville, like the guy who invented the airplane”), who eventually told us yes, he was coming out, but he wouldn’t have much time. When band photographer Torey popped his head out the door, I knew it was time. The string connecting me to the earth was tied firmly, and I was calm. Brandon was grinning widely as he stepped out the door and straight towards the throng of selfie-seekers. “Hey Torey, how’re you doing?” I asked (calmly). Torey was good, how was I? “Good, thanks.” “Hi Brandon, can we have a really quick photo? Your music changed my life, thank you for being you.” I was dimly aware of the small crowd around me letting out a collective “aww” at my words. I snapped the photo, stepped back and then all of a sudden the world stopped turning, and all I could do was repeat “I’m done, I’m done with life, I’m done.” We watched Torey hop into the front seat of a cab, and Brandon in the back, as we ran up the road squealing “We met Brandon!” much to our surprise, Torey waved to us from the car, and snapped a few pictures before they sped off. It had happened. I had met Brandon Flowers. Life as I knew it had changed.