By: Eric Schneider- Staff Writer
After a two year hiatus from performing, Kings of Leon embarked on their “Mechanical Bull Tour,” in promotion of their album “Mechanical Bull,” released last summer. The two-year break was sparked when a supposedly heavily intoxicated Caleb Followill, the band’s lead singer, walked off stage during a show in Dallas during their tour in 2011. The band canceled the remainder of the U.S. tour, alledgedly due to a lack of chemistry between the members. For the sake of alternative rock fans, the band followed up the disastrous cancelation of a tour and rumors of a band break up with the release of “Mechanical Bull,” featuring hit songs “Supersoaker” and “Wait for Me.” I was fortunate enough to attend one of their most recent shows in Louisville, Ky, where the band put on one of the best performances I have ever seen.
Many people are unaware and perhaps surprised that Kings of Leon consists of three brothers: Anthony Caleb Followill, Ivan Nathan Followill and Michael Jared Followill, along with their cousin Cameron Matthew Followill. The family-based band formed in 1999, in the renowned music town, Nashville, Tenn., but they were born and raised in Oklahoma. The band decided to honor their grandfather, Leon, by naming the band “Kings of Leon.”
The night in Louisville began with Gary Clark Jr., who played blues-inspired rock, featuring a heavy dose of guitar solos that had the entire arena entranced. The Kings of Leon stage was set. The band began with an older song, “Charmer,” from their 2007 album, “Because of the Times.” The entire song was played behind a giant curtain covering the stage, each band member an enlarged shadow as they opened the show. The curtain was dropped at the end, allowing for an empowering ovation from the crowd. The brothers and the lone cousin wasted no time, however, moving straight in to “Rock City” from their newest album. It wasn’t until after the curtain dropped that I noticed the insane light show appearing in the backdrop. Besides Steve Aoki and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (both of which, you can imagine, would have an emphasis on the lights involved in their shows), Kings of Leon displayed one of the best light shows to accompany their performance that I have ever seen.
The show seemed like it never stopped. Twenty-eight songs were played. Yes, 28 songs. Reflecting on the night, I realized that it was rare if they took a break to even get a drink of water, let alone to talk to the crowd. The Nashville based band meant business. One of the few things said during the concert was vocalized by leader singer Caleb Followill, who rhetorically asked the crowd, “We have a day off tomorrow, so what do ya say we go for a while tonight?” The crowd definitely didn’t argue with that and the band kept their promise. Kings played every song that anyone could have wanted to hear, treating the crowd to an encore that included “Crawl” and “Sex on Fire” off their “Only by the Night” album.
The vibe that I received from the crowd post-concert was nothing but positive. Who could complain when a world-renowned band you paid to see reps out 28 songs? The “Mechanical Bull Tour” continues into early April, but the band heads overseas during most of the month of June, predominantly in the European countries. With performances like the one I witnessed in Louisville, I can only hope that the Followill boys can get along for a while longer.