Live Review

Kings Of Leon, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

It’s ‘Sex On Fire”s audience in ‘Molly’s Chambers” venue.

Oh, to be a big, huge, massive stadium rock band. To write hit single after hit single, to grow and grow in popularity so much that only the biggest of venues across the world can hold your immense crowd-pulling power. Or something like that. Basically Kings of Leon are fucking huge, and tonight’s venue – the long-faded glamour of west London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire – isn’t.

There’s an odd atmosphere; the gig is primarily taking place for corporate sponsors to film and US comedy type Fred Armisen to direct. The crowd, though evidently excited for what’s to come, don’t seem all that excitable. It’s ‘Sex On Fire”s audience in ‘Molly’s Chambers” venue.

Which is evident from the off – opener ‘The Bucket’ is met with muted appreciation; there’s a solid few at the front giving it, well, something, but elsewhere it’s not quite confusion, but neither the kind of reception that’d be expected for so big a band in such a relatively small setting. It’s not until the double-header of ‘Four Kicks’ and ‘Molly’s Chambers’ hits towards the end of the main set that what’s on stage and off it marry up perfectly. There are even crowd-surfers. Terrible crowd-surfers, but hey, they tried.

There are notably appearances of a couple of songs from forthcoming record ‘Mechanical Bull’ during the set, the already-out-there lead track ‘Supersoaker’ is met with the darker, QOTSA-aping rock beast ‘Don’t Matter’.

These aren’t enough to shake that odd feeling, though. ‘On Call’, ‘Use Somebody’, ‘Crawl’ – they’re massive songs; but here it’s almost as if the quartet’s success is their temporary downfall. These songs delight in giant spaces; they shine in arenas, stadiums, and glow outside. For a smaller crowd in a sweaty theatre, they’re sort of… there. Just there. As note-perfect and impeccably performed they may be, they’re too clinical. And it’s almost as if the boys know it – it’s not until encore closer ‘Black Thumbnail’ they themselves appear to let loose and rock out.

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