Photo by Rich Sugg/The Star. For a slide-show of photos from the Kings of Leon show, go here.
Not too many bands make the big, fast leap that the Kings of Leon made within the past nine months: from midtown to downtown. In late January, the Southern rock/blues band from Tennessee drew a sold-out crowd of 2,300 to the Uptown Theater. Tuesday night, they drew nearly 11,000 fans to the Sprint Center.
So when this headlining arena tour was announced months ago, two questions arose: How many fans would show up? And how would the band sound? The answers: a lot; and good.
The sound in the Sprint Center was fine, at least from the floor (which was GA) by the soundboard. Granted, they weren't mixing Radiohead or a small orchestra like the E Street Band, but the mix seemed satisfactory, as if we were back in the Uptown in January. Even through Caleb Followill's backwoods drawl, the vocals were clean most of the night.
On the list of dynamic arena bands, Kings of Leon aren't going to appear in the Top 20. For one thing, they don't have the stage show or personaes. They did have a nice video rig above them: an inverted pyramid that comprised two levels of lights topped by a row of video monitors that could project live or recorded images as one large screen or multiple images in as many as eight.
That was about it for visuals. Followill paused twice to give the crowd a man-hug and a thanks for making his and the band's lives so good. Other than that the boys were all business and not much charisma, mowing through 20 songs in 90 minutes or so. (Maybe that's because the three brothers and a cousin don't like each other much.)
They play shaggy blues-rock that's steeped in their Southern heritage, so it bears some gospel and soul accents. The music doesn't vary dramatically from one song to the next. The tempo changes, from slow-burn numbers like "I Want You" to more riotous gutbucket blues, as in "Charmer," but the songs are rendered in similar hues and light -- lots of shadows and deep, heavy grays.
So the mood in the arena didn't change drastically either. It boiled over twice: for "Sex on Fire" and then "Use Somebody," the band's recent (well, only) radio hits. Both songs ignited heavy singing-along throughout the arena and dancing all the way up in the upper-levels, among folks with their backs to the walls.
This crowd of primarily adults from 20 to 50 and beyond was familiar with nearly everything on the set list, going back to "Molly's Chambers," off the "Youth and Manhood" album, now six years old. Although the volcanic outbursts were few, the buzz in the room didn't drop below a heavy simmer all night, even during lesser-known tracks (like the one that followed "I Want You").
Having proved they have the stature to headline hockey and basketball arenas, the Kings of Leon now face the more unpredictable and formidable task of trying to maintain it, which prompts another question: Where will we see them next time they're in town?
White Lies:These Londoners blend standard Brit-rock with '80s dance-rock ingredients. The formula worked on the several thousand who arrived in time to catch most of its 45-minute set, including two of the band's better songs: "End of the World" and "Death."
| Timothy Finn, The Star
Kings of Leon setlist: Crawl; Be Somebody; Taper Jean Girl; Molly's Chamber; Fans; Revelry; I Want You; My Party; Charmer; Four Kicks; The Bucket; Sex on Fire; Notion; Manhattan; On Call; Cold Desert; Slow Night. Encore: Knocked Up; Use Somebody; Black Thumbnail.