Live Review

Kings Of Leon, Sheffield Arena

A solid performance for an all-ages crowd.

‘We couldn’t think of anything better than to play in England… the place that made us the KINGS’: Caleb Followill

’s deep Southern rasp reverberates tonight throughout a sold-out Sheffield Arena.

Success of this level has been a long-time coming for the Family Followill. After five years as NME darlings, possessed almost exclusively by UK indie anoraks and scenesters alike, Kings Of Leon’s profile has recently blasted through the global roof, to the point that this week the now sharp-looking Nashville four-piece are toasting and boasting three Grammy Award Nominations; ‘Sex On Fire’ continuing to ride high inside the US Billboard Top 100 - a far cry from the beardy urchin days of ‘Youth and Young Manhood’, when the American music establishment would have deemed them too greasy to spit on.

With accusations of ‘selling out’ and ‘morphing into U2’ being pelted at them from left, right and Liam Gallagher, the question on fans’ lips is whether Kings Of Leon’s giant leap into the arena-league tonight is the desirable ‘next step’ for the band it was always cool to love. Musically, it has not cost them their appeal. ‘Only By The Night’ is a terrific achievement – ambient, anthemic and insanely addictive. It’s album tracks and singles have been honed to resonate beautifully around the arena on this cold winter’s night - current single ‘Use Somebody’ is a rousing moment of fragility, uplifting lighters to the air and inducing swaying en masse, whilst ‘Sex On Fire’ ruffles the young upstarts on the floor into a sweaty pit of dirty moshing muckiness. Along with ode-to-the English ‘Fans’ and anything with a whiff of ‘Because Of The Times’, these songs receive the warmest welcomes and reap the biggest singalongs of the night.

What was particularly notable about this performance though was the absence of the swaggering early singles ‘Red Morning Light’ and ‘California Waiting’ within the tightly wound 100-minute schedule. Instead, the punky ‘Four Kicks’ and rootsy ‘Wasted Time’ led the charge for the more immediate, raucous part of the set, snugly slotting in alongside the more soulful numbers like ‘Milk’ and the euphoric encore of ‘Knocked Up’.

Whilst Creedence is clearly on the backburner and stadium rock is the way forward, Kings Of Leon still manage to flaunt an impressive and diverse back-catalogue of songs that most of their indie peers would slit their wrists for. Caleb Followill is on stage a man of few words, but with a voice like his on records this good, his lack of interaction and dynamism is easily forgivable. This was a solid performance for an all-ages crowd - one that sends home the kids singing and buffs suitably satisfied.

All hail the all-conquering Kings Of Leon. Long may they reign our arenas. But lest they not over-shine their Crown to do so. For they may not musically ‘rule’ for too long.

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