A day of catching up on sleep and warmth, ranting about the Leeds incident and collecting Manchester tickets, then a day of itching to be back on the road and Saturday was here.

I arrived fairly early in the hope that the hotel would let me check in and I could start my day of queueing in the cold, knowing that, being a Saturday, the queue would build up quicker. The hotel were mean and wouldn’t let me check in until 12:00. Did they not know I had important sitting on the streets to do? Of course just before 12 a whole bunch of leery, beer-swilling, stag-doing, footballing men got there before me and so I was stuck behind them waiting for my room.

I finally got in there, quick change and freshen up and out again. I found the arena fairly easily (the already building queue outside was a giveaway). I found a couple of familiar faces, staked out the back of the venue, (one crew bus – check, one Brandon bus – check, one Fozzy bus – wait, what?), and then found myself a comfortable spot near the roadworks.

I found myself accidentally parked right next to one of my lovely Victims tweeps, and my very first Victim tweep (Heather) soon joined us. As two o’clock (standard Brandon emerging time) approached I headed to the back of the venue to say hi. I find it breaks the waiting up if you have a change of scenery for a while. Activity bustled by the bus and it wasn’t too long before the tight red jeaned and braced (I can’t bring myself to say suspenders here) vision appeared with huge smiles on his face, looking mighty dapper and pulling off those jeans as only Brandon can. Well, not pulling them off, pulling them off, but y’know, wearing them with panache! Sheesh.

He had a smile and a handshake for everyone (he touched me!) as he walked down the waiting queue into the venue for soundcheck. It was good enough for us and we giggled and squealed (he touched me!) our way back to the front of the venue to resume queuing.

At the half way point some of us ventured out on the trip to McDonalds we had been told was about a five to 10 minute walk away, not to eat the food you understand, purely to take advantage of their bathroom facilities. After walking some distance, and Heather nearly getting run over by a cyclist on the pavement, (they have cycle paths in Manchester, who knew?) we still saw no sign of a McDonalds, so found a Cafe Nero and took advantage of them instead. Heading back we saw the McDonalds almost opposite the venue. Epic toilet spotting fail.

Finally, 7pm grew nearer, the doors opened and we legged it to the barrier, didn’t quite make it, but did get a prime spot in the second row, just right of centre with a brilliant view, hence some rather great pics from this night.

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Brandon came out in what I think might be my favorite outfit, blank pants, white shirt (sleeves rolled right up), tiny black waistcoat, and to some incredible sound problems. They kicked off right from the start when, during the first song, the microphone exploded back at him (not literally you understand, just made a nice loud bang). Brandon was visibly shocked and jumped back with a curse before continuing as if he’d never left off. The problems continued throughout the set, and you could see the tiny perfectionist trying not to show his annoyance when Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts got off to two false starts.

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No disrespect to his backing band, and I suspect the problems were actually with the PA system at Manchester, but I remember thinking at the time, “this never happens with The Killers, they are way too tight”. Brandon gave it an extra, extra 20% percent to make up for it, and, despite the problems, the performance was brilliant. The set list got changed up a bit with Right Behind You being pulled for Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, which had been heard a couple of times on soundcheck but got it’s first ever full live airing the night before in Liverpool.

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Before going off, Brandon told us we were a wonderful audience and thanked us for bearing with them. Once again it was over way too soon.

After the show, Heather and I (and a whole lot of other people) headed round the back to see if we could catch him on his way out. There were a LOT of people hanging around the stage door, which had some barriers around it. We waited there for a while, and various members of the backing and support band came out for a smoke, but I soon noticed that the stage door was completely surrounded by barriers. There was no where for Brandon to get out. He wasn’t coming out of that entrance, so we made away further down the street to where the busses were waiting where there were also a lot of people huddled.

Sure enough, after about a half an hour, (during which time one of Transfer kept getting the people by the barriers to scream so we would think Brandon had come out) we were made aware that he had been bundled out of a side entrance and onto the bus, surrounded by security. This killed off a few of the people waiting round the bus, but the poor people waiting at the barriers had no idea, and remained there steadily for quite some time, believing he was still inside.

People steadily filtered away as it got later and later, and a core group of us were left, which is where I met the lovely Linzi and Hailey. We chatted and waited, and waited and chatted and shivered and huddled and waited and chatted until people slowly began to drop off and leave. We had heard on the grapevine that the bus was due to leave at 3am, and the longer we waited there, the more determined we got not to leave until the bus did, even though the weather had dropped into minus figures. Having waited so long, it would have been too much if we had left and then heard he came off the bus, and I really feel for those few soldiers that gave up just after 1am, because…

We were worn down, we had done with being cold and standing around, we were spread about a bit, mostly with our backs to the bus, but we couldn’t give up because then it would have been all for nothing, when suddenly, a noise was heard behind us, Hailey looked round and exclaimed “Oh my god, it’s the door..” Now for a good part of the night, various band members had come out for a smoke, so I personally was expecting to see Jake or Torey, cigarette in hand, but when I turned around, there in the the bus doorway was his pocket rock-star-ness, giggling away at us. It’s an image I will not soon forget and I am convinced that he had been watching us from the bus just waiting to come out when we least expected him. The big tease.

We walked over and, I think I was the first or the second to get there, and he came off the bus and held out his hand, his lovely warm hand, goddamn I was cold. But it didn’t matter cos he shook my hand and then we all just kinda stood and stared at him, in too much shock and thaw to do much else. He looked back at us and said, “So, did you want me to sign something or…” Oh yeah, we knew there was a point to us standing around in the cold for 3 hours. We fumbled in our bags for signable stuff and cameras and he stood and signed and took pictures making sure everyone there got what they needed, and then it was over.

Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone 3gs with me, with no flash so my picture didn’t come out so well. I thought the light from the bus would be enough, and was too much in shock to think to ask to borrow someone’s camera, and then when I thought of it, I was too polite to ask for another picture. The main thing is, I know I got to meet Brandon Flowers, and I stood beside him, and he smiled. I’ve managed to lighten the picture enough so that the evidence is there, but I think it will be a long, long way into my senility before I forget that night. One to tell the grandkids I won’t be having.

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I also made two great new friends, Hailey and Linzi, we bonded in the cold, I know they’ll stick by me through the pneumonia, and we will meet many more times under similar circumstances.

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