Last night, the 10th of June 2017, Sheffield arena was host to one of the greatest modern rock n roll bands of the past 15 years as Nashville family band, Kings Of Leon continued the UK leg of their WALLS tour. At a massive arena, packed to the rafters, fans had travelled from far and wide to see these modern legends in action and they didn’t disappoint at all.
The night was kicked off by up and coming indie band The Sherlocks who were providing support on this particular occasion and the greatest thing about this being that they’re relatively local, emanating from Bolton upon Dearne. They wowed and impressed the crowd in attendance with their classic British indie sound, Reminiscent throughout of bands like The Courteeners, Reverend & The Makers, and White Lies but also having that ferocity and grit like The Amazons or The Pigeon Detectives. Their music was infectious and memorable and their stage presence was endearing and grand despite their level of exposure so far. An absolute triumph from The Sherlocks and I don’t think it’ll be long until we all hear a lot more from these guys.
With the audience nicely warmed up by a brilliant support act… here comes the main event. The curtain rose on Sheffield arena’s fantastic stage and there before us stood The Followill family as they hurtled head first into ‘Over’ from the new album. Immediately striking was the participation of the crowd in this. As I’ve mentioned before in previous KOL writings, such as the review of their latest album, they can be a divisive and polarising band, with a huge fan base that adore them, but perhaps the division comes with the different incarnations of them, and I was wondering beforehand, would we have a pro debut album crowd that would turn their nose up to their later, more commercially successful songs, or a radio 1 crowd that will remain still & static until ‘Sex On Fire’ or ‘Use Somebody’ came on? Immediately it was proven to be neither. The whole crowd sang along every word to ‘Over’ and then popped like mad when they followed it up with second album classic ‘The Bucket’. Recognition has to go to everybody working on production as the sound and lighting was absolutely out of this world and the stage was awe inspiring, but the credit must also go to KOL themselves. Everything was perfect from sound engineering, to instrumentation, and Caleb’s vocals were unreal. To use the cliché notion that “it sounded exactly like the record” feels like I’d be discounting the live element, but it really was so clear, and so concise, it really gives you an appreciation for just how long these guys have been doing it, and they appear to have entirely perfected their craft, and seemingly effortlessly too as demonstrated by Nathan’s impressive display of blowing bubbles with his chewing gum whilst drumming. Having said this, the effort was clear and the energy in the performance was incredible. Continuing through their set with tracks like ‘Mary’, ‘Eyes On You’ and ‘Fans’ they eventually came to a pause as Caleb addressed the crowd and once he’d confirmed it was Saturday and none of us had work today, they broke into ‘Sex On Fire’. The crowd blew up and a party broke out but what I have to mention on this, is that with ‘SOF’ being their, you know, big one I suppose, I was stunned to see the effort, the energy and the dedication they put in to deliver the best rendition of it they possibly could and they actually made a 2008 classic sound like todays hottest record. It reignited a fire within me for that song which I haven’t felt since probably early 2009.
The highlight of the show for me came after this, as we saw the curtain fall, and Caleb stand alone, centre stage to deliver a spellbinding performance of The Runner from third album ‘Because Of The Times’. It’s a wonderful mid set treat for all and following this, the rest of the band come forward to join him in a stripped back version of ‘Comeback story’ and then into title track of the new album ‘WALLS’. Caleb stood alone once again for ‘WALLS’ as the rest of the band disappeared behind the curtain. As the final chorus of the song approached, the curtain lifted, the entire set design had been altered and the band were playing along with Caleb, getting ready to lift the tempo to new heights and they transformed ‘WALLS’ into an all out, high octane banger. A really original way of playing it and so interesting to come across in the set, total surprise.
Continuing on, we were treated to an eclectic mix of tracks from their ample discography and highlights included ‘On Call’, ‘Supersoaker’, ‘Reverend’, ‘Closer’, ‘Crawl, ‘Back Down South’, ‘Pyro’ and finally, finishing us off, but not before thanking the crowd and mentioning the Manchester attacks in a touching tribute to those lost, with ‘Waste A Moment’. An incredibly performed set from start to finish and I’ll look forward to seeing them next time… but as they disappeared from the stage, we stayed steadfast as I assured myself “I’ve played this game before, don’t move, here comes the encore”, however there was no encore, they’d really gone, they’d played me completely. This was fine, the original set was more than enough but what I wondered was, what about ‘Molly’s Chambers’? What about ‘Four Kicks’? ‘California Waiting’ or ‘Holy Roller…’? Apparently not! ‘The Bucket’ was the only track played off the second album and the debut didn’t even get a look in, despite selling 2003 tour shirts at the merchandise stand. This didn’t ruin anything or heavily disappoint but just confused me more than anything. What’s the beef with their own early material and when there’s an entire culture of fans that focus entirely on those two, why ignore them completely. Either way, what they DID play was done with the upmost precision, they showcased their talent and ability throughout and it’ll go down as one hell of a show. Welcome back to the UK, Kings Of Leon.
Word by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)