The storytelling and songwriting of lanky, charismatic Alex Cameron gives one déjà vu that hearkens back to classic American rock and roll, evoking the working-man-gone-bad grit of a mid-’80s Bruce Springsteen or Warren Zevon hiding in between the glossy and catchy ’80s synth-rock.
Being the best-kept secret of The Killers tour, Cameron was musically satisfying and lyrically authentic in his set at Masonic Temple in Detroit last night. Mainly focusing on his recent, more romantic material, Cameron started his set with the bitter comedy of “The Comeback,” from his debut Jumping the Shark, before leaning in to the sexy, saxophone-driven, dirt-love anthem “Candy May,” a highlight of this year’s Secretly Canadian-released Forced Witness.
Forced Witness is one of the very best albums of 2017 due to Cameron’s ability to blend often hilariously self-deluding narration about macho failure with visceral honesty and timeless pop hooks galore. Sure, the sounds are an upfront homage to ’80s mid-tempo crush epics, but there’s a depth and electricity to his characterizations and imagery (“I got blood on my knuckles ‘cos there’s money in the trunk”) closer to the openly frank genre of country. This is rock and roll for adults, and Cameron uses its nostalgic inspirations as effectively as Edgar Wright made Baby Driver such a killer film.
Cameron’s business partner and saxophone player Roy Molloy, added for the second album and tour, made the set and sound expressive and soulful. There’s no denying that Molloy helps layer the world of Cameron’s narration in every song he plays. Cameron also brought along the intoxicating co-vocalist Holiday Sidewinder to sing Angel Olsen’s part on the delectable single “Stranger’s Kiss.” The band followed up with the brutally funny and weirdly inspiring “Runnin’ Out of Luck,” one of the album’s strongest portraits of doomed loved and car-wreck lives.
Then Cameron put his guitar down and brought in great Latin percussion assistance from drummer Henri Lindstrom, who Cameron called “an endless supply of pondering and wisdom.” To wrap up, we got crowd favorite “Marlon Brando,” proving Cameron really is cooking and far from dead.
Confirming all rumors of greatness and controversy, Cameron cast a spell on us all and proves to be as entertaining live as he is innovative on record. As he left the stage, he reminded us all to take care of each other and be respectful.
Alex Cameron is an integral part of new music, don’t miss his incredible alchemy live before we watch him become one of the most important pop artists of the 21st century.