LIVE REVIEW: Kings of Leon at BST, Hyde Park, London

KINGS OF LEON

Following a seven-year hiatus, Kings of Leon returned to headline the British Summertime Hyde Park festival. 2017, the main support acts were Pixies and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. This time, Paulo Nutini and The Vaccines filled these roles.

Despite their decade-long career and extensive touring experience, The Vaccines initially appeared uncertain, wondering how many attendees knew who they were. Their anxiety quickly dissipated as it became clear that many in the crowd knew the lyrics to their songs, reciting them along with the West London quartet.

Paulo Nutini followed The Vaccines, adapting his signature soul and pop-rock sound to fit the vast expanse of Hyde Park. The heavier guitar-laden arrangements suited songs from his latest LP, Last Night in the Bittersweet, his first in eight years. However, this approach proved less effective for “Pencil Full of Lead” from his sophomore LP, “Sunny Side Up.” The infectious brass arrangements that make “Pencil Full of Lead” so memorable were sorely missed.

Kings of Leon, celebrating their 25th year as a group, took the stage amidst a buoyant atmosphere, bolstered by England’s recent qualification for the UEFA European Football Championship quarter-finals. Frontman Caleb Followill stood out, dressed smartly in a tan blazer and a cream cardigan. The band performed a 29-track set with eight songs from their latest album, Can We Please Have Fun. However, they also ensured representation from each of their nine LPs.

Highlights of Kings of Leon’s performance included their recognition of the crowd’s preference for key hits like “Sex on Fire,” “Molly’s Chambers,” and “Use Somebody.” They played six songs from their fourth album, Only by the Night, which features most of these hits. While their debut LP, Youth And Young Manhood, deserved more representation, the band focused on fans who discovered them through their first and only number-one single, “Sex on Fire.”

Hyde Park’s vastness and a large VIP section meant that general admission ticket holders needed to arrive early to see the band without squinting. Unfortunately, large screens were absent for much of Kings of Leon’s performance, replaced by lyric videos and visuals. This made it difficult to gauge the interaction between band members. However, the visuals paused at key moments, such as when drummer Nathan Followill blew a large pink bubble during “Taper Jean Girl.”

The biggest disappointment was the disengagement of significant sections of the British Summertime audience. Many seemed preoccupied with everything but the festival experience. Nonetheless, those who engaged with the live acts had a wonderful time.

 

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 352 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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