This was probably the best line-up of all of the NME gigs that have been taking place over the past couple of weeks. Norwegian band 120 Days were, however, a bit second-rate. It was hard to keep focus on the music when each of their songs dragged on for what seemed like an eternity. In fact, during their 40 minute set they only managed to squeeze in 4 songs (before they were chucked off – about time too!).
After taking a bit of a synthesiser pummelling from 120 Days it was a relief to hear a bit of classic cheesy 80's rock from Brooklyn based The Hold Steady. What was most noticeable about The Hold Steady was just how much they were enjoying themselves. Lead singer, Craig Finn, was revelling in their recent middle aged breakthrough after the release of their 3rd album 'Boys and Girls in America'. The band, all in their mid-thirties, were proud to pedal every rock cliché that they loved from the Springsteen/Bon Jovi light’n’tight denim era. With a chain smoking guitar player and leather clad piano player they were massively unfashionable but assertively proud of that fact. They went down an absolute treat with the crowd. They finished with ‘Southtown Girls’ and if you’ve never heard it then download it immediately (legally of course - ED)!! As far as support acts go, The Hold Steady did a fantastic job in warming up the crowd.
Of the numerous bands that appeared off the back of The Strokes revolution back in 2002, Kings of Leon have probably fared the best and it wouldn't be an understatement to say that they are rivalling The Strokes on the popularity front. Their upcoming April tour sold out within the hour and tickets for this gig were exchanging for more than £100 outside the venue. I'm lucky enough to have heard Kings of Leon's new album 'Because of the Times' and it’s fair to say that it’s a stronger effort than their New York equivalent’s 3rd album.
London Astoria never fails to disappoint on the celebrity front and the VIP balcony seemed that bit busier than usual. In attendance was self confessed fan Noel Gallagher and the bass player from The Killers (possibly wishing that his band were this good?!).
"Of the numerous bands that appeared off the back of The Strokes revolution back in 2002, Kings of Leon have probably fared the best and it wouldn't be an understatement to say that they are rivalling The Strokes on the popularity front"
Astoria had reached fever pitch before Kings of Leon came to the stage to an operatic intro tape. Opening with new track 'Black Thumbnail', lead singer Caleb Followill took centre stage in his sleeveless denim jacket and incredibly tight jeans. Judging by the crowds reaction to many of the new songs, they'd all got their hands on a copy of the new album too as they sang along with Caleb word for word.
‘Black Thumbnail’ ran seamlessly into ‘Taper Jean Girl’ which was quickly followed ‘King of the Rodeo’. There wasn’t much talking from the band except the occasional polite ‘Thanks for coming out tonight’ or ‘It’s great to be back in London’ from Caleb. The hits kept on coming and it was unremitting. Older classics such as ‘Molly Chambers’, ‘The Bucket’ and ‘California Waiting’ provoked mass sing-alongs and flurrys of crowd surfing.
Lyrics have never been a strong point for the Kings of Leon and it’s a challenge in itself to try and comprehend what Caleb is mumbling on about. However, in the new acoustic based and radio-friendly song ‘Fans’, Caleb could be heard singing something along the lines of “The London scene it ain’t so bad when you’re the King. The King they want to see-ee-ee-ee”. Possibly a thumbs-up to the perks of stardom and the fans in London when your chips are down? To be honest, who knows?
It was the new tracks that showed the Kings taking a slightly different musical direction. The encore had two absolute beauties, opening with ‘Arizona’ which is Kings of Leon’s biggest lighter waving anthem to date. Then ‘Charmer’ gave evidence of a heavier, hard rocking sound evocative of the Pixies and including a few Caleb shrieks. They finished with ‘Slow Night, So Long’ and a (somewhat rehearsed??) microphone throw that left the crowd screaming for more.
Rumour has it that there’s a song writer by the name of Angelo behind the relentless stream of classic rock tunes that the band seem to continually produce. Still, as a live band the signs are all there that Kings of Leon have matured into something grand and, with the material to hand, they are on the cusp of becoming true rock gentry.
The set was:
'Taper Jean Girl'
'King Of The Rodeo'
'Slow Night, So Long'
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article by: Thomas Powell
| published: 01/03/2007 00:18|