As a concept, it could be madness or genius: an hour-long celebration of Mr Brightside, the monotonic song with the driving beat that might just rank as the nation’s favourite earworm. It’s a funny, self-aware and ultimately touching tribute, dressed up as a podcast-style investigation. But you needn’t need to be a Killers fan to appreciate it, for this is a universal celebration - a salute to bittersweet memories and to experiences shared.
Our hosts for the night are Hannah Follows and Tim Chapman, resplendent in vaudeville-inspired costumes and brimming with charismatic charm. (If you’re going to see this show, I’d recommend you remind yourself of the original music video first; not only will it make sense of their outfit, there’s one hilarious parody segment you’ll enjoy just that little bit more.) They start with the story of the song itself - so implausible in its good fortune that it almost counts as legend - before launching into an account of their quixotic mission, to track down a particular karaoke singer they’ve found on YouTube who styles herself after Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers.
What follows is a comic tale of ham-fisted research and borderline Facebook-stalking, reminiscent in its way of a true-crime podcast. It’s part shaggy-dog story, part illustrated talk, and part group sing-along; it’s all punctuated by improbable re-interpretations of the classic hit, ranging from the ubiquitous ukulele to an equally inevitable interpretive dance. If you know the original song well, there are plenty of knowing in-jokes to enjoy, whether they’re shoehorning-in phrases from the lyrics or cleverly echoing the musical arrangement in their own.
It’s a communal experience, and the audience is very much invited to join in - both through the obvious medium of singing along, and via neater riffs which (of course) I won’t spoil. From time to time they descend from the stage to challenge us directly, offering simple tasks around a general theme of paying more attention to the people who surround you. It’s bold and personal, and in lesser hands might get uncomfortable - but they read the mood well, and know when to move on.
Yes, the investigative narrative is spread a tiny bit thin, and yes, there’s an extended bit in the middle where they go on a road trip and nothing actually happens. The finale is a massive act of misdirection - pulling a rabbit out of a completely different hat, and somehow making us believe it’s a resolution to the story that’s gone before. But it’s such a beautiful rabbit, I don’t think anyone will feel short-changed.
In the end they boil it all down to a single question: a question that’s easy to ask but complex to answer, nuanced and thoughtful enough that it doesn’t seem reductive at all. So there’s a moral there if you want one, but this is a show that bears its meaning lightly. It’s spirited, loud, joyful and droll - unashamedly there to be enjoyed. And in my book, that’s doing just fine.