Kings of Leon soar in Mansfield

A review of Kings of Leon, Young The Giant at the Xfinity Center on August 9, 2014

, Editor-in-Chief

The last time Kings of Leon were scheduled to play the Xfinty Center in Mansfield, the show was cancelled – along with the remainder of their 2011 summer tour. It was a dark period for the Tennessee rockers, who were on the brink of breaking up. Flash forward to three years later and the band was back at the Massachusetts amphitheater last Saturday; healthy and enjoy themselves on stage before a particularly adoring crowd.

Though not at capacity, Saturday’s crowd was very vociferous for the band’s second area show of the year (In February, they performed at the TD Garden in Boston). Midway through the show, after a rocking run through “Notion”, they brought the show to a standstill with a roaring ovation fit for a king. It seemed fitting when the show picked back up, Kings of Leon charged on with “Comeback Story” off their latest release, the 2013 Grammy nominated Mechanical Bull. Rock is filled with the classic “Behind the Music” comeback tales and while Kings of Leon’s story is not totally unique, their triumphant return is certainly welcomed and appreciated.

As happy as the fans in the crowd were, the band members seemed to be genuinely happy on stage, performing together. Just as they open Mechanical Bull, Kings of Leon opened Saturday’s show with “Supersoaker”. Drummer Nathan Followill, who anchored the band alongside brother and bassist Jared Followill, kept the beat going as the band charged on with “Taper Jean Girl”. Frontman Caleb Followill was in fine form. The middle of the three brothers, who entered rehab shortly after the band’s 2011 tour blew up, looked to be in great shape and his vocals were particularly strong. Lead guitarist Matthew Followill, the trio’s cousin, made his presence known throughout the night with impressive work on the fretboard and number of soaring solos. The group was augmented by multi-instrumentalist Christopher Coleman.

Over the course of their 24-song/120-minute set, Kings of Leon touched all points of their catalogue. Of course, they made sure to emphasize Mechanical Bull by delivering two thirds of the album. The new material mixed well with the old with “Family Tree” among the early standouts alongside the classic favorite “The Bucket”. As part of the band’s pledge to play one exclusive song for each city on the tour, Kings of Leon time to pay tribute to one of Massachusetts’ finest exports. After prefacing that they did not rehearse the number and could very likely mess it up, the band delivered a sold take on the Pixie’s classic “Where Is My Mind?”.

The latter half of the show really picked up steam with crowd favorites “Radioactive” and “Temple” before Kings of Leon unleashed the hard rocking “Molly’s Chambers” off their 2003 debut album Youth & Young Manhood. Following the slow-building anthem “Beautiful War”, Caleb asked the crowd to take their phones to light up the venue. The remarkable site, along with a snow effect over the stage, gave new life to “Cold Desert”. To bring the main set to a close, the band led the crowd through a sing-along of “Use Somebody”.

Kings of Leon returned for a stellar three song encore of “Crawl”, “Black Thumbnail” and smash hit “Sex on Fire”. Along with more soaring guitar solos and vocals, the trio of rockers came complete with lazers throughout and a pyro waterfall on the latter for an extra punch to close the show.

Young The Giant excelled in their opening set, proving they are one of the more exciting new acts of the past few years. The Los Angeles rockers balanced material from their two albums over the course of 40-minutes. Frontman Sameer Gadhia was reminiscent of another California rocker in Brandon Boyd, while his bandmates were equally strong.

Perhaps most intriguing about their set was the return of hometown product Stuart Berk. The Berklee grad is well known in the local scene (starting with his time in former Boston standouts Averi) and has spent the past couple of years as Young the Giant’s touring manager. When guitarist Jacob Tilley suffered a broken hand from a skateboarding incident a few weeks ago, they turned to Berk to fill the void, which he has done admirably.

The band’s set picked up steam as the crowd continued to gather in. Hit single “Cough Syrup” got the crowd on its feat, where it remained for “Mind Over Matter” and set-closer “My Body”.

Setlist
1.  Supersoaker
2.  Taper Jean Girl
3.  Fans
4.  Family Tree
5.  Mary
6.  The Bucket
7.  Closer
8.  The Immortals
9.  Tonight
10. Notion
11. Comeback Story
12. Pyro
13. Back Down South
14. Where Is My Mind? (Pixies cover)
15. Radioactive
16. Temple
17. Molly’s Chambers
18. Don’t Matter
19. Beautiful War
20. Cold Desert
21. Use Somebody
  Encore
22. Crawl
23. Black Thumbnail
24. Sex on Fire

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