Kings bring it at Lupo’s

A review of the Kings of Leon at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel (RI) on September 29, 2007

, Staff

Since the release of their 2003 debut LP, Youth and Young Manhood, the Kings of Leon have been a rather interesting story.& The Kings’ band members consist of a happy family of three brothers, Caleb, Jared, Nathan, and one cousin, Matthew, all of the same last name, Followill, and all hailing from the Tennessee.& The three brothers grew up traveling around with their father who was a Pentecostal Church preacher; although their music would suggest that they probably didn’t spend much time paying attention to their father’s words of wisdom.& Their southern rock sound up until this point has been primarily focused around themes of sex, drugs, transvestites, and more recently, getting girls pregnant; hardly things that would make their religious papa proud, I assume.

Although the lyrical themes of their three albums have been consistent, it is clear that the Kings of Leon have, at the very least, done a fine job of progressing in their songwriting ability. Youth and Young Manhood was the album that launched these boys onto the main scene and helped them gain a steady fan base, but at the same time many critics wrote the band off as silly, pretentious, and immature.& One could debate, however, where immaturity ends and genius begins.& Mick Jagger once sang about premarital sex with a sixteen year old girl on Beggar’s Banquet’s “Stray Cat Blues”, not far off from anything that can be found on any Kings of Leon album.

OK, so comparing the Followill brothers to the Stones might be a bit of a stretch, but the Kings’ most recent record, Because of the Times, shows signs that they might be on the verge of mastering an infused sound of good classic rock (if such a thing exists) with new-era indie pop.& Times reflects sounds of the Rolling Stones, U2, and Pearl Jam (all of whom they have toured with over the past few years, ironically).& On the flip side, it’s also got songs like “Charmer” and “Fans” that blatantly borrow (or steal, depending on your stance) from The Pixies’ song “Debaser”.& &

At Lupos Heartbreak Hotel in Providence on Saturday night the band played an abundance of songs during their set, primarily tunes off Times and their second (and best) album, Aha Shake Heartbreak.& The gents dove into “Black Thumbnail” to open the night, giving way to a seamless transition into “Taper Jean Girl”, a typical Kings song consisting of a couple of feel-good verses that collapse into bass-driven breakdowns, followed by a quick guitar solo and outro.

Throughout the night, the show impressively went off without so much as the slightest musical hitch. There was, however, an incident towards the middle of the show where a bottle got thrown at the band in between songs, leading to someone in the crowd being rightfully spit on by frontman Caleb Followill.& Thankfully, this did not appear to affect the band’s mood throughout the remainder of the show.

Their first big radio-hit, “The Bucket”, was certainly a highlight of the night, showcasing backing vocals from each member.& The first set ended in epic fashion with live staple “Trani”, a song about “a pack smokes, a little bump of cocaine” and, well… a transvestite.& (This also happens to be Bob Dylan’s favorite Kings of Leon song, just FYI.)

Crowd participation helped songs like “Knocked Up”, and “Fans” carry the encore to the final part of their set, before “Slow Night, So Long”, the first track off Aha Shake Heartbreak, wrapped things up for the night.

& For one reason or another, a band can come along at the right time in our short-minded society, sing about being young, and be hailed as the saviors of rock and roll (think The Strokes). But for some reason that I never quite understood, the Kings of Leon came along singing about pretty much the same thing a few years later and they were shunned by critics. Either way, love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Kings of Leon are good at what they do. Damn good.&

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