Friday 23 March 2018

Fans ready for visit from rock royalty

The 80,000 fans who snapped up Kings of Leon tickets will not be disappointed, writes Barry Egan

A FEW months ago, The Hollywood Reporter ran a spicey cover story on 'The Business Of Glee', in which, among other things, the show's creator, Ryan Murphy, talked with no little anger about how The Kings Of Leon turned down the offer of having some of their songs on the hit US programme and then told the media with a certain glee about it.

"F*** you, Kings of Leon," Ryan sneered. "They're self-centred assholes and they missed the big picture. They missed that a seven-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings Of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. You can make fun of Glee all you want but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music."

For the record, the band's enigmatic front man, Caleb Followill, was bemused by why Ryan got himself in such a snit."This whole Glee thing has gotten out of hand," he said. "At the time of the request, we hadn't even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle promoting Somebody. This was never meant as a slap in the face to Glee or to music education or to fans of the show. We're not sure where the anger is coming from."

Annoying the bigwigs at America's top TV show is grist to the mill for the Bible Belt's most enduringly off-kilter and cool combo (their volcanically hot Sex On Fire introduced them to the world many moons ago). Evidently, they like to move the boundaries of what is acceptable.

In 2006, when they were introduced to Bob Dylan, with the firm instructions by Bob's team not to hug him under any circumstances. Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill noted, however, that "when he walked into our trailer, I hugged him before I could even think about it.

"After that, he had to hug us all and my brother Jared accidentally knocked his hat off. His security guys were furious."

Denis Desmond, the Cork-born promoter of the Kings Of Leon show at Slane Castle this Saturday, was presumably far from furious when the 80,000 tickets for the gig sold out in 40 minutes last November.

Lest you have been sitting in watching Glee and nothing else for the last few years, The Kings Of Leon are Caleb Followill and his brothers, drummer Nathan and bassist Jared, and their cousin, guitarist Matthew Followill.

They come with, as Spin magazine put it, "a William Faulkner-worthy backstory". They are the sons of a travelling pentecostal minister, Leon -- hence the Kings Of Leon.

They grew up on the road between Memphis and Oklahoma City and slept with their dad in his purple Oldsmobile. Legend has it that they never stayed in one place for more than a year. Their father forbade them to listen to secular music for fear that God would strike them dead. (Leon's alcoholism got him defrocked from his profession.)

In 1997, their father suddenly resigned from the church and divorced his wife Betty Ann.

Around that time, Caleb and Nathan moved to Nashville and in 1999, along with youngest brother Jared and a cousin Matthew, they set about the southern gothic uber-band that will wow 'em at the castle.

Kings Of Leon have cited Thin Lizzy as an influence; Thin Lizzy are one of the supports on the bill at Slane.

The influence of their father remains firm. "In prophesy, it says at the end of days there will be wars and rumours of wars," Caleb told the Daily Telegraph in 2008.

"Look at all the hurricanes and earthquakes and everything that's going on -- to me, its almost like what has been done in America has brought on the feeling of a religious war and along with that a lot of other prophecies are coming to pass. It scares me."

Caleb and his brothers have not been without their critics. Pitchfork webzine joked: "What if Bono got lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains and was replaced by a local yokel? Suggested band name: Y'All2."

Y'all be sure to be at Lord Mountcharles' castle next Saturday.

Sunday Independent

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