Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 31 January 2015

Kings of Leon rock Vital festival in Belfast

Soaking up stadium royalty as they reign in the rain

Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon

The Kings of Leon, a family affair dominated by the three brothers Followill and one cousin, started out wearing their pentecostal southern rock and blues roots with pride.

As their popularity has grown, they have made the inevitable musical compromises their stadium rock status demanded. And yet... here we are in a stadium, of sorts.

In fact, despite the threat of rain, Tennent’s Vital had the benign atmosphere of a boozy country fair, albeit one that services something like 100,000 people over three days. S

o observing the iron law of festivals that no matter where you stand the drunkest person there will sidle up next to you, we welcomed the band on stage to rapturous applause at 9pm.

And here of course is where the chiming guitar sound patented by U2 makes sense, as likeably upbeat new single Supersoaker demonstrated.

Indeed they have an imminent new album Mechanical Bull to promote, tracks from which provided the crowd with plenty of opportunity for social interaction.

So down came the rain, time to play the hits. Back Down South led the fightback against the elements, its gentle arpeggios cutting through the air like raindrops.

Kings Of Leon have attempted to broaden their palette to include reggae and funk, but too often their choruses lapse into Bonjoviesque bellows. Fortunately they have bankers like Molly's Chamber and UK number one Sex On Fire to get low down and dirty like proper Southern boys should.

Not that they had to try too hard. They are a very good stadium group. But I remain unconvinced that they are a great rock and roll band.

Michael Conaghan

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