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Kings Of Leon - Concert Review
Review of KOL Calgary - Aug 13,09
Don't ever underestimate the Kings. At the risk of sounding like every person who has ever seen them live, I have been a fan from day one; I saw a preview for their first album Youth and Young Manhood in Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 and haven't turned them off since.
While the albums speak for themselves, I have no reservations about calling KOL the best live act I have yet to hear. I can say this effortlessly. I have attended venues for many rock and roll demigods including the likes of the Rollings Stones, AC/DC, Guess Who, Bob Dylan, RHCP, and many many more. Their first trip to Calgary was welcomed with a sold-out Dome crowd of 15,000.
The Kings have had the beautiful opportunity to attract mainstream audiences to their music via a selection of radio-friendly jingles including Sex on Fire, Use Somebody, and Notion. However, many fans don't realize that the pinnacle of KOL's greatness is found in perfectly gritty earlier albums. This allows for new listeners to revel in the discovery of countless great songs, and old listeners to feel an incredibly nostalgic connection to the live show. At the Calgary concert, lead singer Caleb even excused anybody who changed radio stations every time Sex on Fire was played, saying he'd do the exact same thing.
As soon as the lights went down, the entire setlist felt like it was engineered entirely for me. I willfully surrendered my last opportunity to get alcohol, because I simply could not do them the disservice of getting up. During an almost two hour performance, KOL played cult-classics like Taper Jean Girl, Four Kicks, Molly's Chambers, Red Morning LIght, Milk, and Charmer.
The Kings stand alone for a number of reasons, and a number of huge, video screens gave listeners an intimate glance at the band up-close. Another important distinction was that Caleb was not afraid to address the crowd personally. Many bands can barely remember the name of the city they're playing for, and KOL made every effort to give the fans a sincere and true connection. Part of this came from the heart and soul that IS KOL, and part came from perhaps their surprise at the jumping, dancing, screaming aduience. This is a concert in which you expect to stand at all times, and not just during the encore. (in which they played FOUR songs btw)
Standing for two hours without a drink in my hand is not usually my idea of a good time, but I can honestly say that the set was perfect. They were worth every penny, and at no point did I look at my watch and wonder when the encore was coming.
About the only bad thing I can say about the concert was that there were no experimental interludes or extended jamming - most of the songs were clean off the albums. Also, it appeared KOL's sound crew was experiencing small difficulties that were eventually sorted out around the halfway point.
Buy the albums, see the live shows - this band is going to be around for a long time, and listening to the evolution of their music is truly a beautiful experience. Do not underestimate the Kings, they will rock you, use you, and kick you to the curb and you will crawl back for more. They're lusty, drenched in sin, with explosive energy. This is one of the bands that has saved the 2000s from being labelled as one of Pearl Jam rip-off rock bands. In a time when SO MUCH crap music is being touted as SO GREAT, it is truly comforting to know that my generation hasn't lost all its musical credibility. Raunchy southern-rock is alive and well; no matter how awkward they seem to fit within the moulding of mainstream top-40 rock.
Some bands I've seen in no particular order:
The Guess Who, Rush, AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Kings Of Leon, The Whigs, Trooper, Three days grace, Seether, Econoline crush, RHCP, Motley Crue, The Trews, Dallas Green, Sam Roberts, La Chicane, The Tea Party, Queens of the Stoneage, Blue Rodeo, Sass Jordan, The Flaming Lips, The Have Love Will Travel Review (Dan Aykroyd/Jim Belushi), The Isley Brothers, Justin Timberlake