WORDS BY: ADAM HARRISON
It was a rock star-studded evening at Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Tuesday August 5th. Everyone’s favourite family from Nashville, Tennessee, Kings of Leon, returned to the city for the second time this year as part of their Mechanical Bull Tour. But this time we had a full southern line up, including support from Young the Giant of Irvine, California, and Kongos of Johannesburg, South Africa. Providing fans with four hours of bang for their buck alternative rock music.
Kongos kick started the night and to the pleasant surprise of anyone who hadn’t heard of the Joburg brothers yet, were blown away by their energy and unique style of almost jungle-like alt-rock equipped with one brother on his signature accordion. Songs like “Sex on the Radio” and “I’m Only Joking” caught attention, but it was Kongo’s smash hit “Come With Me Now” that won everyone over and had the cell phones in the air for a quick Instagram video.
Young the Giant, the only band on the bill that didn’t consist of all brothers, followed and left some big shoes to fill. But the boys lived up to the challenge and rocked us hard and soft with their punchy rhythms and sweet melodies. Enthusiastic front man, Sameer Gadhia, was the clear centre of attention, drawing the audience in with his sway, head whips and tender vocals. The band is currently touring for their sophomore album, Mind Over Matter, which also proved to be one of the most impressive tracks in the set along with the Mars Volta-esque “It’s About Time.” But similar to Kongos, it was their major commercial hit “My Body” that had everyone up on their feet, hair-whipping along with Gadhia.
Just as you thought the night couldn’t get any better, Kings of Leon hit the stage and reminded you why the place was sold out from pit to lawn. The Brothers Followill are now touring for their sixth studio album, Mechanical Bull, and opened the set with the first single “Supersoaker,” getting the crowd warmed up and rowdy early. They continued at the same pace with “Taper Jean Girl” from 2004’s Aha Shake Heartbrake. In fact, Kings of Leon now have such a wealth of recognizable songs that the set hardly dipped in excitement the entire night. Years from now, Kings of Leon could very well reach Pearl Jam status, where they have such a collection of hits that every show is something completely different.
With Kings of Leon, there are no gimmicks. The brother’s don’t run around the stage thrashing their head about, their very stationary and concentrated and their grasp comes completely from their sound. They’ve played together so long, their performance and music is so tight and perfected, you’d never even know if they made a mistake. Not to mention the hauntingly raspy vocals from frontman Caleb Followill. Of course, your eyes became busy as well with the fantastic light show and production that goes behind a Kings of Leon show now as well.
The set was so packed with highlights; it’s almost hard to pick out the best moments. About two thirds of the way through the main set, we heard the song “Soft,” a rare treat for even the most die hard KOL fans, since the band hadn’t play since 2009. “Radioactive,” “Temple,” and “Molly’s Chambers” followed the surprise, to make for what was likely the most epic fifteen minutes of the evening.
The encore lived true to the rest of the set’s pace as the band returned with the heavy drum beats of “Crawl” from their 2008 breakthrough album Only by the Night. The brothers finished off the night in what is becoming a Kings of Leon tradition, their mega hit “Sex on Fire,” which now includes real fire and sending everyone home in an heroic blaze of glory.
After seeing Kings of Leon for the first time, regardless of how many times you’ve seen them after that, it’s hard not to buy a ticket every time they’re in town because they are simply one of the most talented bands in the world right now and every time you go, they’ll throw something a little different at you.