The Kings are Back

Racey+images+of+half+dressed+ladies+played+behind+their+latest+hit+Supersoaker.

Noemi Griffin

Racey images of half dressed ladies played behind their latest hit Supersoaker.

At 6:30 pm just after sound check, the doors to the arena opened and a flood of fans poured in to take their seats.  The show was scheduled to begin at 7:30 and people filed in until just before the lights dimmed and the hum of the amps drowned out any other sounds.

The Kings of Leon were back in Atlanta to play Philip’s Arena for the first time since October 2009. This was a show that I had been waiting for since the release of Mechanical Bull on September 24.

Soundcheck took forever but at least we got good seats, close enough to see them sweat.
Soundcheck took forever but at least we got good seats, close enough to see them sweat.

The lights went out as the first chord of the night was struck.  The screen focuses on the guitar of Gary Clark Jr, the opening act, as his fingers move through fast licks. He powered through a 45 minute set with soulful passion and a style of guitar playing almost reminiscent to Hendrix.

A tall and lanky figure in a knit cap and dark jacket, Clark rarely left the shadows of the stage, adding an air of mystery to his soulful blues.

His voice was often hard to hear over the two guitars powering on stage, but as he hammered through “Bright Lights” with its slow burning melodies, it was clear that his talent and passion far exceeded his age.

He struck the last chord and the lights went up again as the roadies began to break down his set to make room for the Kings of Leon’s instruments. It was clear to me that Clark’s talent was well fitted to tour with bands like the Rolling Stones.

The Kings took the stage at 8:50 remaining relatively masked behind the shadows and screen as it flashed horror movie-esque images as they sledgehammered through their opening number “Charmer”.

With a no-frills attitude they captured the audience for a full two hour set, hardy stopping for breathing room between each song.  From the start of their set the Followills; Caleb, Nathan, Matthew, and Jared, staked out their spots on the stage and stayed in relatively the same spots for the entirety of the show.

The set laid heavily on music from their newest album Mechanical Bull, however they pulled out a few of their famous ringers and crowd pleasers like “Taper Jean Girl” and “Molly’s Chambers”.

Racey images of half dressed ladies played behind their latest hit Supersoaker.
Racey images of half dressed ladies played behind their latest hit Supersoaker.

As they went through their set, the large light and screen set up, this covered the majority of the back of the stage. The images on screen flashed between the band members playing and mesmerizing graphics.

During “Family Tree”, it flashed trashy motel signs to echo the southern trucker rock sound of the song.  For smoother, more laid back songs like “Beautiful War” the screen flashed flowing blue images that would have fit in the James Cameron movie “Avatar”.

Caleb, KOL’s frontman and guitarist, addressed the crowd, who filled three fourths of the arena and never sat down, only once or twice saying “we wanted to start the tour somewhere fun with a lot of great people…so thank you for proving us right.”

Caleb delivered his heartfelt lyrics through squinted eyes and furrowed brow as his distinctive bray filled the stadium. Matthew, guitarist, hammered through the songs with great musicianship, at one point playing with his teeth.

Jared, bassist, kept steady eye contact with the crowd as he picked through thick and deep bass lines.

Nathan, the drummer, kept a steady beat pounding away and calling the attention of everyone in the audience. For me he was the star of the show, my eyes remained focused on him and the stunning light show for the majority of the show.

Aside from the excellent musicianship, the lights display really made the show. Access Atlanta quoted the band saying it was one of their biggest productions by far.

Behind the band an LED screen had been set up and flashed bright lights into the crowd. Mounted above the stage were strobe and laser lights that streamed into the crowd, highlighting the smoke and particles floating above the crowd. The lighting display was as much of a show as the music was.

KOL pulled out all of the stops on this tour to make their light show more than just spectacular.
KOL pulled out all of the stops on this tour to make their light show more than just spectacular.

They left the stage the first time on a high note, ending with “Use Somebody” followed by “Trani”.

After Nathan cleared the stage the audience chanted five minutes for an encore, without a pause.  The Kings took the stage again to close out their first show of the tour with an unexpected three song set, ending for the last time with one of their most famous songs “Sex on Fire” to which everyone in the audience sang all the words feverishly.

Access Atlanta called the show the biggest and best that KOL has put together to date. And, judging by audience reaction, Atlanta can’t wait to host the Kings of Leon if and when they decide to go on tour again.