Monday 22 October 2018

No royal pomp as Kings parade cliches

Kings Of Leon
The O2, Dublin

Caleb Folliwell of the Kings of Leon performs
Caleb Folliwell of the Kings of Leon performs

ED POWER

RUMOURS that U2 are to mark the opening of the gargantuan O2 arena with a surprise support slot persist for about 15 seconds tonight.

That's how long it takes for three mustachioed Frenchmen and a woman with Bonnie Tyler hair to slope out of the wings and plunge into a cacophony of woozy art-pop. Across the hall, thousands of shoulders slump in disappointment.

Why Gallic nu-gazers M83 have been chosen as the warm-up act for Kings Of Leon is a mystery. But then, the arena-level success of brothers Caleb, Jared and Nathan Followill plus cousin Matthew is also baffling.

Hillbilly rawk

While their 'hillbilly rawk' yields agreeable quantities of lighter-waving ludicrousness, there's something far-fetched about the way the Tennessee backwoods bad boys have leapfrogged more lauded peers to vie with Coldplay and U2 as Ireland's favourite stadium superstars. Nathan's tumult of drums leads into opener 'Closer', a southern-fried hunk of big-sky riffola.

For the next 40 minutes, they sift through the highlights of their recent number one album, 'Only The Night', moving from the super-sized silliness of 'My Party' to the U2-after-a-crate-of-bourbon swagger of 'Sex On Fire', wherein frontman Caleb enunciates such gigglesome lines "Your sex is on fire/ Consumed with what's to transpire" with Thom Yorke-worthy gravitas.

Though the singer is a picture of solemnity, KoL fans will be aware of murmurs that Caleb's reluctance to curb his fast living has caused a rift within the group.

There are certainly glimmers of inter-band tension. Following an encore shuffle through 'Slow Night, So Long', perhaps their most fully realised track, Caleb declares this their toughest stint on the road yet.

"If it wasn't for you guys, I don't know if we would be still around," he says. For the first time this evening, you sense he's speaking from the heart rather than quoting the A-Z of stadium rock cliches.

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