Stadium shows can be hit or miss, very touch-and-go. Granted, the bands playing them are talented and deserve to be there, but the size of the venue can affect the performance. I was skeptical that Kings of Leon would be able to sell out Rogers Arena. Not only was I wrong, it was probably the biggest crowd I have seen their this year. (Beating out Imagine Dragons, and at the very least giving Paul Simon & Sting a run for their money). Granted I am a Kings of Leon noob. I know the band obviously, but I wouldn’t be able to identify them if I heard “Use Somebody” or “Sex on Fire” on the radio; I don’t listen to the radio much anymore. Again I know the songs, but did not know they were Kings of Leon… you get the point. Anywho…
The show itself started off with a bang. With two computer hubs that rivaled NASA headquarters, a projector that shot beams of light into the roof and a giant video screen with a wicked live feed, this was a band who fully embraced the technological age and proved that a good music concert can be more than just playing instruments (though it doesn’t have to be). Caleb’s face was projected on the mega-screen behind the band, and showed his soulful emotional status. They were filmed and projected live, while being intercut with a variety of images and music video like footage. At one point, six split screens were up at once showing Caleb from various angles. Another time a trio of screens showed Nathan, Jared and Matthew simultaneously. It was really quite a feat. With all this, it could be argued that this band of brothers (and one cousin) is techno-rock, but that would be unfair.
The boys from Oklahoma/Tennessee are some good ol’ southern comfort. Except, they aren’t necessarily your traditional-sounding southern rock band. Based out of Nashville, they are bit edgier than you might expect a band from the deep south to be; all the more impressive given that they were denied rock music as children. (Jared, Caleb and Nathan spent many years in a camper van traveling with their Pentecostal preacher father.)
One of the early highlights for me was the song “Family Tree“. It was an incredible tour de force performance with a punchy chorus, no less than a dozen laser beams of light illuminating them in various ways, and they were being reflected on the big screen behind them. Clearly the Followills’ motto is: go big or go home.
Speaking of big, at times it felt as if there was a distance and disconnect between myself (And the audience) and the band. The show was at Rogers Arena – Vancouver’s biggest indoor venue – and the farther away one is in the audience, the harder it is for them to sustain interest, unless the band is really on point. Not that the boys didn’t play a good show – they did – but very few front men can pull off getting 72 000 people simultaneously clapping along in time to one of you biggest hits. (And Rogers has half that). Before you hit the jump, any guesses as to what that previous sentence refers to? It has been cited as the greatest moment in rock (and music) history. It is extremely difficult to connect with a crowd of 30 000+, especially the ones way up in the rafters. As fan and attendee Chris Beach put it it was a “tight show, good sound, great visuals, [but] a bit sedate an impersonal”. I found my attention drifting elsewhere occasionally, although usually a big number would be bring me back in.
Kings of Leon started big, very big throughout and ended big, with bright lights and confetti slowly drifting down from the ceiling. Of course they saved “Use Somebody” for near the end of the night as well. I think their album should Technical Bull instead.
Kings of Leon sixth album – Mechanical Bull – was released on September 24, 2013 on RCA Records