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Concert Review by Nick Morgan

Hammersmith Apollo, London, Tuesday 21st June 2005 - by Nick Morgan

Kings of Leon
Music fans will recall that this was ‘the best concert that I missed‘ from last year, so I was naturally delighted when the Kings found their way back to the UK, and in particular to three sold-out nights at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Not surprising really as they seem to have found their way into the hearts (and pockets) of the Brits far more successfully than their home audience – both (brilliantly produced) albums – Youth & Young Manhood and last year’s Aha Shake Heartbreak have been runaway hits, and their visits here are always over-subscribed. In fact their debauched rock and roll lifestyle as they toured the first album provided much of the material for the second – music great but shame about the secondary school lyrics and obvious sexual innuendo. But Carry on Rock and Roll. It’s a joy to be in a packed hall of mainly mid-twenties rock and rollers and realise that there is hope after Coldplay, Travis et. al. after all. And if one might have a sense that there is a little too much of the marketers hand about the band then this is one instance when it can be forgiven – perfect product, perfect marketing.
Kings of Leon For those that don’t know the Kings are four Followills; brothers Mathew on lead guitar (looking like Johnny Depp doing Keith Richard doing Johnny Depp), Jared on bass (a sort of cross between an oversized Ronnie Wood and Sid Vicious), Caleb on guitar and vocals (he’s the one that looks like Legolas minus the bow and arrow and skateboard), and Cousin Nathan (he’s the one with the beard, bass-pedal power foot, and bubblegum).
From Tipton - no – not the one near Birmingham where I played my first paying gig, but Tipton County near Memphis, they bring a Southern soaked rock and roll with echoes of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater and at times even the Band. But there are traces of Europe in there too – you can hear the Buzzcocks, Motorhead, Golden Earring (yeah Johannes – they made it!) and certainly a riff or two from the Keith Richards ‘Play in a Day’ tutor. But the sound is no rip off – it’s a real mixing pot, and the result is something quite unique, not least thanks to Caleb Followill’s out of this world half sung, half spoken, and half muttered (hang on – that’s one and a half!) vocals. The glue, as they say, which holds the whole thing together.
Pity then that the one downside of the show (apart from the typical June London heat wave, which had venue promoters Carling rubbing their lager soaked hands) was the sound system. I mean I know he mutters and all – but aren’t you supposed to be able to hear it nonetheless? Too bad really. Onstage these boys were as tight as ninepence – showing an uncanny ability to start a song, do the bit in the middle, and then finish perfectly. They powered through almost all the material from both albums at pretty much top speed, with barely a word to the audience.
Spare and simple in their playing, they were supported by an equally understated yet effective light show (marvellous when it projected their giant shadows on the back of the stage during ‘Spiral staircase’). Phew! If it was thirty degrees outside then the Kings raised the temperature inside by another 30 – energy (as they used to say as an excuse for anything in the good old days of punk rock) and raw power by the bucketful. They can come back and visit any time. Kings of Leon
And I hope I’ll be back too. But bad news rock fans! Serge and I are at loggerheads, like nations divided in a confrontational standoff, over the Rebate I negotiated on my Whiskyfun expenses. I mean, how can a few French farmers matter when compared to my globalised free market rock and roll reviewer’s lifestyle – stretch Hummers, Green Point fizz, Chinese Ray Banns, and even American HP Sauce? No, I can’t give it up. But Serge, I’m reaching out to you. Lets call a truce and let the good times roll again. How about we make a comic romantic gesture of reconciliation for our public by getting engaged at the top of your Tower of Eiffel? What say you, “oui” or “non”? Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate)

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