Concert Reviews

Last Night: Kings of Leon at the American Airlines Center

Kings of Leon
American Airlines Center
October 7, 2009

Better than: spending a nice evening listening to top 40 radio?

By the box office, before  last night's Kings of Leon performance began at the American Airlines Center, there seemed some doubt as to whether the late arrivers would be able to buy their way into the suddenly hot ticket affair.

Turns out the show wasn't a sellout after all--but the arena still had the high-energy appeal of one, thanks to a swaggering set from the Followill family, which saw guitarist Matthew Followill using his teeth to play his guitar at the onset of the opening song, "Closer." Seemed the Kings, despite their body language showing off a heavy case of the road-weary blues, were in the mood to show off their playing chops, too.

Over the course of its almost hour-and-a-half performance on Wednesday night, the Followills did just that--and they did so while putting a heavy influence on its most recent material, starting the night off with three songs from the band's 2008 effort Only By The Night, and never straying too far from that album's playlist as the night wore on. Of course, that much made sense: It's the success of that album the Kings of Leon have to thank for the fact that, over the span of a year, they'd made the jump from playing ballrooms like the Palladium to hosting near-sellouts in arenas such as this.

Of course, "sellout" is a term that's been often applied to Kings of Leon as late--not for its draw, but for its new sound and success. But a thankful Caleb Followill, who frequently spoke to the audience at the arena last night, was quick to address as much, expressing his pride for all the band had accomplished in the past year and expressing his hope that the band's newfound fans would remain with them in the future.

It was a stark contrast to the ornery light in which the band has been cast as late in the press; if anything, though, this seemed a tired, worn-out and thankful outfit--not one looking for a fight. Just once did frontman Caleb express any disdain: During its encore, after performing its radio smash "Use Somebody," Followill pointed out the audience members heading for the exits.

"Where are you going?" he asked, before addressing those still in their seats. "This is my favorite part of the night. This is where all the people who were here for the wrong reasons walk out."

Those remaining in the room let out a roar almost as loud as the singing it'd offered during that same song's chorus.

Indeed, playing in this massive arena, before an adoring crowd, the Followills sure had plenty to be thankful for. And, in return, they offered their fans quite the show, and showed their deft ability to craft an intimate performance, even in a such a large setting.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I, for one, very much enjoy Only By The Night as an album. It's kind of a beast of a disc, actually. A statement record, for sure.

By The Way: The recent radio success of this band was blatantly seen in this show's attendance. The AAC was a suburban/uptown, designer clothed hot mess last night.

Random Note: I rode the DART rail from the AAC to Deep Ellum after the show--and watched about 50 people looking for the green line hop onto the red line 'cause they didn't know any better. In time, folks. In time...

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman