Kings of Leon find the spark of their rock ’n roll roots

Kings of Leon’s shaggy, old- school rock has turned out to be surprisingly durable.

In the 13 years since their debut album, rock ’n roll has been eclipsed by pop while Kings of Leon have, at times, struggled to match their initial success and early critical acclaim.

Yet here they were, beginning a three-night residency at Ireland’s largest indoor venue in front of a loyal and exuberant crowd.

The biggest shock was the band’s visible, raucous enthusiasm. Aficionados may differ over the calibre of Kings Of Leon’s music: Where some hear only meat and veg stodge, others are thrilled by their appropriation of the tropes of classic rock.

What is widely agreed is that the Nashville quartet’s live performances have often suffered from a jolting lack of stage presence.

But in Dublin, backed by a busy light show, they cut a swagger. Singer Caleb Followill strutted and preened — as per his job description — during ‘The Bucket’; on ‘King of The Rodeo’ and ‘Around The World’ guitarist Matthew Followill (the frontman’s cousin) threw himself about with a grin.

The contrast with their previous concerts here, where they invariably stood rooted to the spot, was striking. That may have something to do with return-to-form long-player Walls.

As with any outfit around for in excess of a decade, Kings of Leon have endured their highs and lows, their irascible early period leading to a series of bloated and instantly forgettable later records — projects for which even the musicians involved struggled to marshal any enthusiasm.

With Walls, they have reconnected with the wildlife spark of their formative years, when the three sons of an itinerant Baptist preacher (and their cousin), emerged from the Tennessee backwoods with a lock-up-your-daughter twinkle.

That energy carried through to their live shows. ‘Eyes On You’ was growling, ripe with menace; the anthemic ‘Use Somebody’ shimmered darkly.

Blazing through nearly 30 songs, Kings of Leon didn’t trouble with an encore. It was a rare departure from rock ’n roll’s hoariest traditions.

Otherwise, this was a devil-may-care reiteration of guitar music’s primary values: Look cool, project stylish scruffiness, and kick up a racket.



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