Brandon Flowers salutes photographers after Queens of the Stone Age incident: ‘At any Killers concert, you’re safe and respected’

Going into night two of this year’s KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at Los Angeles’s Forum, the annual holiday radio event had received nothing but bad press: On Saturday afternoon, Morrissey canceled his Sunday appearance, and on Saturday night, Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme shockingly kicked photographer Chelsea Lauren in the face while she was shooting from the pit. But Sunday at KROQ Xmas, the Killers — now the default headliners, in Morrissey’s absence — brought the festive holiday vibes and saved the day, not only by covering two Moz songs but by paying tribute to the hard-working rock ‘n’ roll photographers at the venue.

At one point during the Killers’ set, lead singer Brandon Flowers gestured for the band’s regular photographer, Rob Loud, to join him onstage; when the snapper hesitated, Flowers reassuringly said, “I’m not going to kick you in the face” — a quip that immediately garnered laughter and applause, since the Homme incident had been the talk of the weekend. Then, after Loud hopped onstage, Flowers hugged him and said, “I just want to tell you to tell all of your friends that you’re welcome here, and at any Killers concert, you’re safe and you’re respected.” Flowers then dedicated his next song to all of the photographers present, announcing, “They make us look good! We need to take care of these people!”

The other gossip of the KROQ weekend was Morrissey’s last-minute cancelation. While the ex-Smiths singer’s no-show wasn’t exactly a surprise, since he has canceled a reported 127 concerts in the past five years — including dates in Boston and Philadelphia just last week, and one Northern California show in November because he complained the outdoor amphitheater was too cold — it was still a disappointment. (This time, the reason given was the illness of an unnamed member of Morrissey’s touring party.) So when the Killers played Morrissey’s 1988 solo hit “Every Day Is Like Sunday” and the Smiths’ 1984 classic “This Charming Man,” it charmed the disgruntled KROQ crowd, indeed.

The Killers may have been the only Sunday band to address the QOTSA and Morrissey incidents, but they weren’t the only artist on the lineup that played cover tunes. Weezer, in anticipation of their summer 2018 tour with fellow ‘90s legends the Pixies, performed the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” while indie popsmiths Foster the People offered an enthusiastically fist-pumping rendition of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

Other highlights of the KROQ Xmas night two included Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars’s long-distance crowd-surfing, Franz Ferdinand previewing their groovy forthcoming album Always Ascending, and the Killers bringing out members of local heroes Dawes for a lovely acoustic version of “Christmas in L.A.,” one of many holiday benefit singles they have released over the past 11 years for the (RED) charity.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night a seemingly distressed Josh Homme issued an apology to Chelsea Lauren via Queens of the Stone Age’s Twitter account, admitting that he’d been a “total d***” and claiming, “I want to be a good man, but I think last night I definitely failed at that. …I’m gonna have to figure out some stuff, I think, ‘cause rock ‘n’ roll is a wonderful thing; it’s supposed to help and save people, not mess them up.”


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