International Writers Magazine: Rock
The kings stomped
the stage looking considerably better groomed than on the cover of first
album Youth and Young Manhood, and a lot smaller than you
see on the telly. This was most likely because our seats were so far back,
and the NIA was so very big. None the less, the sound was loud enough,
dirty enough, thumpingly tuneful enough to make up for the seemingly diminutive
players. Below us was a mass of dark moving bodies, tiny people in grungy
colours and the occasionally red rain mac. My mind wanders during live
music, I cant ever seem to concentrate, gig goers are just so interesting.
A lot of the people in the pulsing pit below had mobile phones, and their
little blue screens lit up the floor like upside down constellations.
Far from being distracting however, the stars down there only added to
the atmosphere up here. The band played in front of moving black and white
images of bulls, and the reflected crowd, and shiny mirror balls put bright
spots on all our faces.
Aby Davis review
On the 10th of
December 2007, the Kings of Leon opened their Birmingham
NIA set in a burst of yowling voice and raunchy guitar. I bought
tickets two weeks earlier, in a moment of impassioned impulse ,
while a friend with a car reckoned she could make the four hour
drive north. Then, panicking because I had a deadline the day after
and her car was a bit of an old banger, we tried to sell on the
tickets....desperately seeking Kings Of Leon fans who werent
too poor or busy. We failed, and I am so glad we did.
Kings of Leon were born and raised in the American deep south,
two following their preacher father around and occasionally being
allowed to play the drums in church meetings. Their music has gritty
southern tones, and nods to old school rock, and whats great
about a lot of their songs is that even if you dont know the
words you can make sounds that sound like them. YOOOWWWWW!
Shes so charming oh no!" We mouthed along to the last
song, as the moody black and white visuals displayed a mostly nude
pole dancer with strange tattoos. Not exactly the sort of thing
the Kings grew up knowing about in their preachers son existence.
It is obvious that the Kings of Leon are a live band, they wasted
no time talking to the audience. No introduction to the songs, or even
themselves, no this ones for my mom or even a hello
Birmingham!. No, the band gave us the songs we love and left the
stage, coming back once for a three song long encore. I dreaded the idea
that they may mostly play new stuff, being a skint student I still havent
got round to purchasing the latest instalment in the bands collection,
so I was very relieved when Bucket came on. This blood fizzing
wallop of guitar rifts and a wistful story of growing up is arguably one
of the best songs on Aha Shake Heartbreak, the album described
by Rolling Stone as a "fuzz encrusted rocket of controlled
violence". Violence has never seemed so appealing. In a day and age
when The Spice Girls are allowed to come back, it is incredibly
refreshing to sit in a gig with music that sounds like it was unearthed
from underneath an old bar in the old west, like it was scratched about
a bit and Led Zeppelin coughed on it.
The Kings of Leon are keen on reinvention, although saying that
makes me think of Madonna and grow a little uneasy. What the Kings do
however, is far simpler than changing a hairstyle and employing a rapper.On
the bands website, lead singer Caleb Followill says "because we were
trying to make a different sounding record, we had to sit back and listen
to each other a bit more". Because Of The Times is the most
diverse album the band have yet made. With songs jumping from a little
bit skanky, to beautifully sweet. Caleb has this voice that grates and
growls, he used it to mesmerising affect in Birmingham. The first, almost
ethereal, bars of On Call, a single from Because Of the Times
were met with sighs and woops from the crowd, who ignited a few more camera
phones and swayed a little harder. There were a few jumpers in the front
row, you get those at most gigs. Where stand kids who dont enjoy
music unless they have a permanent stitch and no breath left. We, on the
other hand, felt perfectly at ease to sit on the bars above our seats
and munch apples.
It took about five hours to drive back that night, without a proper map
and a car that sometimes didnt start. To stay awake on the journey
home, we tried to list all the songs we knew with strange sounds in them,
it was a long journey and the game was played with the sort of tired hysteria
you get when youre little and have orange squash before going to
bed. I still had a deadline the next day, and was likely to have just
a few hours sleep, but as Kings of Leon say, (or appear to say
anyway) "well well well, well well well, well well well, yoo hoo!".
© Aby Davis December 13th 2007
Aby is our resident reviewer at Hacks and studying Creative Writing at
the University of Portsmouth
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
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