Review: Kings of Leon @ Bell MTS Place
I hope the members of Kings of Leon were outside before Dawes’ set to catch that magnificent prairie sunset. If that wasn’t the most amazing “Welcome to Winnipeg – It Just Comes Naturally” sign, I don’t know what is…
Ever since their album, “Only By The Night”, I’ve been dying to see Kings of Leon live. I remember when it came out and the band was thrust into the spotlight in the States. I was surprised to hear they had an extensive back catalogue and I bought almost all of it. I enjoyed their other albums, but no album stuck out for me like “Only By The Night”. I played that album to death and I STILL play it. I sing to it, I dance to it…I love it. The songs never get old for me.
I went to the show with my lovely friend Kim and we danced the night away.
The lights went down, the smoke machines blew out ambiance and Dawes materialized on stage. They started their set with “Things Happen” and as their show progressed, I was surprised to learn they weren’t Canadian. From the song writing (“A Little Bit Of Everything”), to the humble/self-deprecating banter (they dedicated a song to everyone who felt like they had to endure Dawes performance so they could hear Kings of Leon – and they were sincere about it), their whole performance reeked of Canada. I thought they were good, but none of their songs really grabbed me.
Their set ended with “All Your Favourite Bands” oh wait…”All Your FAVORITE Bands” (no “u”) and singer/guitarist, Taylor Goldsmith told us to have a good night and ended with “I know you will!” which made me want to have a beer with the guy for being so freakin’ nice. And I don’t even drink beer…
Kings of Leon’s set started with a heart pumping on the screens and then the red curtain lifted to reveal the back lit band circled in smoke with a purple hue. They started with “Conversation Piece” and it felt like a soundcheck. There wasn’t much going on on stage, but the purple smoke effect was cool. I sat back and enjoyed lead singer, Caleb Followill’s gruff voice.
I don’t know who designed this show, but the production was great. For the first part of the show, they used only a quarter of the stage. The lights were set low with the heavy curtain on top. It gave the illusion of a smaller more intimate stage. There were screens all around the back of the stage, which made it feel like the stage was pushed forward, even though it wasn’t. It felt like we were watching them play on a stage in a theatre. To achieve that effect successfully, was really impressive.
Caleb addressed the audience with the usual stage banter, asking us how we were doing, etc. And then told us just because it was Monday, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. It felt a bit forced.
After “Revelry” and “Use Somebody”, the red curtain came down and Caleb was left alone with his guitar. He sang for awhile and then a standing drum kit was set up and the other members joined him for an acoustic set. Caleb was left on his own again and sang “Walls” while the other members played behind the curtain. Then the curtain rose to reveal an elaborate stage draped in purple light with blue clouds in the background. The band livened up a little.
I enjoyed “Crawl” and then Caleb announced “Let’s have some fu@%ing fun!” rather unconvincingly.
I was thrilled they included “Back Down South” in their set, but the song felt flat as the lead guitar seemed to be buried in the mix. Or maybe it just wasn’t there…not sure. Either way, the fullness of that song was lost.
I loved “Pyro” and while the audience sang Caleb’s part (“Can you feel it?”), the lights exploded on stage, which made for an exciting and energetic finish to the song.
“Knocked Up” was my favourite tune of the night and I enjoyed dancing with Kim to it. If you don’t know it, it’s a song that goes on for just over seven minutes, and it doesn’t change much. But I love the way it travels and I listen to it a lot. If you don’t like the song, that would have been a long seven minutes…
The show ended with “Sex On Fire” and “Waste A Moment”. Then the band lingered on stage, said some prolonged good-bye’s and left. There was no encore.
I’ve heard people say when playing live, Kings of Leon dial it in. In other words, their performances are uninspired. I don’t disagree. If I took away the lighting, impressive production, and all the songs I knew, that show would have been really boring. There just wasn’t much showmanship on stage and the band barely acknowledged each other. It almost seemed like this was a desk job and they were obligated to go through the motions so they could punch out. At times I questioned whether they really wanted to be there, playing this music.
Well…I like the music. And I really like Caleb’s voice, so in this instance, I could overlook it. Which, you have to admit, is unusual for me. The reviewer part of my brain is truly confused that they’re headlining festivals after that performance, but the fan part of my brain had a terrific time.
Would I see them again? If the production was the same and Kim wanted to go? Yes, I would. Would I recommend this show to my family and friends? Not unless they were already fans of the band.
And now, I’m off to bed. I have to start packing tomorrow, I’m going on a girl’s trip to Vancouver for the weekend! WOO-HOO!!!
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs