herald

Monday 11 December 2017

BAND OF BROTHERS BRING THE FIREWORKS

KINGS OF LEON

Caleb Followill flashes a smile. "I'm having the best time of the whole tour," he declares. We'll have to take his word for it. We all know the deal with the brothers Followill and their tag-along cousin, right?

You see, Kings of Leon don't do exuberant. Nor do they do giddy. They just show up, play the songs and go home. Actually, that's a lie - they've been here all week, posing for Instagram accounts, playing golf and drinking Guinness. Prep for the big gig, no doubt.

The point is, Caleb and his family are the kinda guys who take their rock 'n' roll a little too seriously.

There's a, er, statuesque 'quality' to their live shows - it is, among several other reasons (namely, a loss of mojo in the song writing department) why the Nashville rock outfit, now on album number six, has become the subject of much critical derision.

CONCENTRATION

A wee bit of showboating aside (guitarist Matthew goes all Hendrix on us for a minute, applying his gnashers to his instrument), the lads prefer to play their songs exactly as they are on record. Which, apparently, requires a great deal of concentration.

It made for an entirely forgettable Slane concert in 2011. Here, at Marlay Park, however… well, the golf must have worked wonders. The Kings have (just about) rediscovered their groove.

It's not a magical show, nor is it a lesson in how to make these huge outdoor event gigs work. But it's a damn sight better than what we expected.

FIREWORKS

Heavy on the effects, the new KOL live experience makes up for its timid cast of characters by applying every visual trick in the book. Shaky cam footage (wow, those guys are really going for it up…. oh, wait, no, it's just the cameraman). Pyrotechnics. For crying out loud, there's even a fireworks display at the end.

Maybe it's the heavy rain. Perhaps it has something to do with the sublime guitar work, or Caleb's spirited howl. Whatever the case, it's all going down a treat.

What's more, Caleb is very chatty tonight. He and his handsome troops look different, too (fresh haircuts and gym memberships all round, it seems). They plough through an anthemic, finely-tuned set of raucous fan favourites (My Party, The Bucket), bar-band work-outs (Molly's Chambers and the sensational Black Thumbnail) and relentless radio hits (there's still some gas left in Sex on Fire and Fans).

If there's a distinct lack of power in their stance, they at least have the decency to make up for it with a blistering, intoxicating sound. Would it kill them to shake their limbs to their own beat? Probably.

At least they're improving. But you know this is one of the band's better shows when Caleb starts talking about playing a little longer to break the rules. Kings of Leon rebellious? Who knew?

HHHII

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