Review: Kings of Leon at Vector Arena

By Joanna Hunkin

There are two routes to the top of the musical food chain, where Nashville's Kings of Leon are sitting pretty these days.

The first is through a cataclysmic explosion on to the music scene, winning an instant fan base with a series of chart-topping hits.

The second, and the path the Kings of Leon have followed, is a slower and more laborious prospect - growing your fan base through a series of solid, consistent records and regular tours.

Last night's show at Vector Arena was the band's fourth visit to New Zealand, following two Big Day Out showcases and a sellout show at Vector Arena last January.

This time, they are playing three sellout stadium shows in New Zealand, thanks in large part to their recent hit record (their fourth studio effort) Only By The Night.

And while the record - the band's most radio-friendly, stadium-suited - may be responsible for their staggering ticket sales, the boys returned to their southern fried roots for the show, churning out their full spectrum, from the golden hick jams of the early days to recent stadium anthems.

It was a far cry from last year's disappointing showcase, in which the band adopted a surly professional aloofness as they swiftly turned out the hits and left without so much as a word to the crowd.

Talking still isn't a strong point with the Followill brothers, but frontman Caleb at least tried to interact with some tried-and-true cliches. Nobody in the packed stadium really believed we were the best crowd of the tour, but they appreciated the sentiment.

And when he told the room to stand up - apologising first for sounding "like a prick" - they did. Of course it helped that the band busted out Tapered Jean Girl at the same time, the first old favourite of the night.

As they moved into their earlier hits King of the Rodeo and California Waiting, the audience was clearly contented, but waiting for something more.

And it came. Like a wave building to a giant crest and crashing over the sweaty crowd, the Kings reeled off their biggest and best tracks - Revelry, Milk, Red Morning Light, Sex on Fire, The Bucket and On Call.

It was everything the fans could ask for. But nothing more. They played the songs you wanted to hear and they played them well, but Kings of Leon don't do add-ons or bonus deals.

Those seeking fireworks, look elsewhere. Those seeking some bloody good rock 'n' roll, this is your band.

- NZ Herald

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