Kings Of Leon, Wednesday November 16, Rod Laver Arena
I was more nervous than excited as I approached the gates of Rod Laver Arena ahead of Kings Of Leon's third, and final show in Melbourne on their Come Around Sundown album tour. Last here in 2009 amidst the peak of the hysteria surrounding the single, Sex On Fire, the Tennessee four-piece had sold-out their first stadium show down under, in mere minutes. It therefore came as no surprise, that with another commercial hit album under their belts two years later, the boys had almost sold-out the same humble stadium another three times over. With a growing back catalogue that now extends to five full-length albums, it would be understandable to see why a long-time devotee such as myself may be fearful for 90 minutes worth of brand new material, and none of the older goodies that made my teen years one hell of a southern rock-out.
Despite all of the band's highly publicised issues in its lead-up, one element that got the tour off to a promising start was the special treat of stellar support act, Band Of Horses. Having happily paid to witness the band on Australian tours as recently as last winter, I was secretly more excited to catch the Seattle alt-country quintet return to the stage on a much larger scale. And boy, they did not disappoint. Vocals from frontman Ben Bridwell were melodic yet haunting, with his chilling southern twang perfectly suited to the open stadium's acoustics with tracks The Funeral, No One's Gonna Love You, Is There A Ghostand more upbeat strummerCompliments garnering a great reaction from the small, but enthusiastic crowd. Bridwell and his bandmatesput on a heartfelt and musically tight display, showing their appreciation for having had the opportunity.
As Kings Of Leon walked out on stage to an ominous soundtrack, flooding red lights, anda roar from the crowd, Caleb and his kinship swung into opener Crawl, followed by Aha Shake Heartbreak standouts Taper Jean Girl and Four Kicks. With some more original garage tunes Milk and Youth And Young Manhood favouriteMolly's Chambers, thrown into the set list early, it made the way for the latter half to be dominated by the songs of more recent albums Because Of The Times and Only By The Night.
By the time the encore came around, it was obvious the boys were tired. Having initially sending a pulse into the crowd with the lusty swing of his hips as he played, Caleb appeared confident vocally, but quite simply, bored with the performance. As the band worked almost mechanically through their set like a well-oiled machine, the sound was effortless and almost mirrored to the production quality of their records. However, the set lacked the kind of grunt and electricity you crave from a show such as this; dirty, grungy southern-style rock. It's true that Kings Of Leon continue to hold their appeal with their sin-drenched style and sex appeal, but a show like this left me a little dissatisfied, yet still eager for more.
LOVED: The support from Band Of Horses .
HATED: The omission of King Of The Rodeo and the inclusion of Sex On Fire.
DRANK: Beer out of plastic cups during intermission.