Back in the days when they played up close and personal at small clubs like the Exit/In, home town boys Kings of Leon developed a strong dedicated local fan base. Serious music fans hung with them even after they graduated to larger rooms like the Ryman. The Kings moved further up the venue ladder to arena scale after scoring the Grammy Record of the Year with “Use Somebody.” Big-time fame has a way of scaring off long-time fans, but along the way the Kings began to attract more casual music fans who don’t mind the less-intimate appeal of an arena show.
The Kings made their last local appearance in October 2009 which was at the Arena. This night’s show was the second on a tour supporting their latest effort, Mechanical Bull. It was their first here since they suffered an on-stage melt-down in July 2011 that led to their much needed respite from the road.
The evening began with a 50-minute blistering opening set of blues bordering on hard rock (think Robin Trower) by recent Grammy-winning Texas guitar whiz Gary Clark, Jr.
The Kings then took the stage to a cacophony of noise and sound that made their opening number feel like something out of a Halloween spectacular. Things soon got back to normal—but perhaps a bit too normal. The two-hour plus set of hits and fan favorites didn’t disappoint the room full of casual music fans. But, for those out to hear something that didn’t sound just like the record, it became quite a yawner. It led me to text a friend who was down on the floor. To my “I’m getting tired of the Kings tonight,” his reply “they sound like they have about four songs” really nailed it.
The Kings hit their stride with a guitar-driven formula buoyed by lead singer Caleb Followill’s classic rock voice. It’s a sound that you can spot a mile away, but they don’t deviate from it much at all. This tour’s addition of a “fifth King” as a sort of musical utility man didn’t add any much needed life to the set. While I found myself enjoying many of their great album cuts, I think I’ve had it for long doses like this of the Kings. Maybe they need to add some more severe tempo changes, a piano ballad, or an acoustic guitar? In my opinion, they just need to do something to break out of this monotonous musical mold they have forced themselves into. But, the sold-out house loved it, so it may just stay that way.
- Rock City
- My Party
- On Call
- Family Tree
- The Immortals
- Back Down South
- Wait for Me
- Don’t Matter
- The Bucket
- Molly’s Chambers
- True Love Way
- Beautiful War
- Cold Desert
- Use Somebody
- Black Thumbnail
- Sex on Fire
Caleb Followill—Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Nathan Followill—Drums & Backing Vocals
Jared Followill—Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals
Matthew Followill—Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals
[unknown]—Percussion, Keyboards & Guitar