thu 20/06/2024

Kings of Leon, Hyde Park | reviews, news & interviews

Kings of Leon, Hyde Park

Kings of Leon, Hyde Park

It's a story of too little, too late for the Southern rockers' big London gig

Kings of Leon: Premature middle age

“It’s been one of the greatest experiences of our lives,” said Kings of Leon's lead singer Caleb Followill towards the end of this big outdoor gig on a warm summer’s night in London. “Thank you very much.” I’m glad he had a good time, and his diffident Southern charm was appreciated by the vast crowd, but I wish I could say the same; for me, this was certainly an experience, but not a great one. Here’s why.

First, there’s the mysterious process by which Kings of Leon have become a globe-conquering, arena-packing, Hyde Park-filling band, which they seem to have achieved by becoming duller, slower and sludgier. Once they were young and hungry and lean and downright weird – three brothers and a cousin from Nashville, Tennessee who played fast, sharp, gutsy guitar rock. They had their own sound - tough, yelpy and urgent. Then they went on tour with U2 and they seemed to decide that big, slow and epic was the way to go; suddenly Kings of Leon were just another band, a group who had seemed to reach premature middle age almost overnight.

KingsOfLeon-LeedsFestival2009-GS-11And it was this big slow swirling epic material that dominated their two-hour set. Some of it was fine, and all of it was well executed (although I can’t fathom why they feel they need a fifth musician on stage to play guitar, keyboards and percussion; they used to get along fine on their own), but it was hardly enthralling. Also, trying to sound like U2 is all very well (although Kings of Leon are nowhere near as good), but the Irish supergroup’s success as a live band stems in part from their use of the stage, their movement, the confident ease with which they lope and strut and pace. Here, the video screens showed an edgy, fast-cutting black-and-white version of the band’s performance, but this was illusory: the band themselves were largely immobile, rooted to the spot. And unsmiling. Why so serious? Most of their songs seem to be about sex, but to look at Caleb Followill (pictured above) and the rest of the guys you’d think they were singing about the end of the world. Also it wasn’t loud enough.

Then there was the crowd, many of whom spent much of the show treating the band on stage as a backdrop, as the soundtrack to a great big booze-up: they shouted at each other, they shouted into their mobiles, they chatted among themselves, they drank, they staggered off to the loos, they threw not-quite-empty plastic beer bottles around (I was hit by three). I felt like an uninvited guest at someone else’s party, with a band playing somewhere in the distance.

This tedium was enlivened occasionally by more upbeat tunes such as “Molly’s Chambers” and “Notion”, only for the momentum to be lost as the band slipped back into another mid-tempo chug-rocker. Only towards the end, as darkness fell and the stage took on a radiant glow, did the night finally come alive: “Sex on Fire” (the globe-conquering hit from their multi-platinum 2008 album Only by the Night) had the crowd punching the air, roaring the lyrics, and throwing yet more beer bottles, “Use Somebody” prompted a mass singalong, and “Knocked up” was sinuous fun.

This sudden final flurry of excitement seemed sufficient to send the crowd off into the night happy and buzzing, but I arrived home dusty, tired, stinking of beer, and singularly unimpressed by the Followill brothers and their cousin (and their mysterious fifth member). Call me a grumpy old git if you like, but I expected more from a band of their stature and status.

Watch Kings of Leon performing "Molly's Chambers"


Well perhaps if you had got more involved and were nearer the front u would have heard if better! I'm sure u are a gig veteran but it sounds like ou are a gig virgin - complaining about getting a bit of beer on you! The fans of Kings of Leon live them for all the music they have made not just the more fast paced rockier numbers and I'm sure I speak to the majority of the crowd last night when I say we very much appreciated them playing a good range from their past albums. As for them smiling - it was obvious the were enjoying themselves and in the zone and rocking out along with the rest of us! Perhaps it's just u who wished you were at a U2 concert instead And are projecting the disppointment onto Kings of Leon when in fact they don't want to be u2, just the noteworthy band they have become today with a great sound and now a great gig under their belt. If I may offer a word of advice, perhaps if you are off to an open air gig in a park next time, don't be afraid to get a bit dirty and a bit squashed at the front, you may be pleasantly surprised! and if that's not for you, then I maybe stick to reviewing the Dvd release where you can sit comfortably in your arm chair no flyig plastic bottles in sight.

Don't know what gig you were at last night, but it can't have been the kings Hyde park gig! Yes the sound could have been better, but no outdoor gig sounds as good as inside. The guys played their hearts out, and it was a set for their true fans, not the sex on fire brigade and we loved it!! If you want a show with people jumping all over the stage go and watch girls aloud. If you want to see a bloody good band kings are for you. In any case how serious should this article be taken when the writer can not even get the song titles right!!!

I'm afraid David Cheal is spot on here. Clearly for any band as big as KoL now are there will be a breed of self-declared "true fans" who can't see any fault with their idols, but having followed the band since the beginning it really saddens me to see how lifeless and tedious their performances have become since they achieved mega-fame, compared to the thrilling rock'n'roll shows they used to put on. And frankly I can understand it - it must be disillusioning for these great musicians to see the price of their fame - the domination of their audience by drunken morons who probably have about six CDs in their collection, the most adventurous being by Oasis and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The Kings could have been one of the great bands of our time, but they've chosen to sell out their musical skills for a chantalong with 50,000 people who don't actually care that much at the expense of losing the spark that once drove them. Sad, sad, sad.

I'm with David - yeah, a bit of beer on you is to be expected but there were big groups near me that didn't appear to notice the band at all - a nearby überchav was complaining loudly that his bottles weren't flying true and maybe he needed more weight in them! Nice. As for the band, sound was good but music did feel a bit leaden and his audience chat felt like a script - doesn't help he sounds like George Bush when he talks, perhaps that's why I didn't believe him...

I kind of agree with this, the crowd were as expected, although I think you are all very hopefull that is was always beer being chucked at you. I was showered by some extremely warm 'beer';-) Disgusting and very distracting. But it is to be as expected and exactly the same crowd as they will get at V. I thought the set list was incredible though, the only track missing for me was Arizona. I saw them in a bigger crowd last year at Rock Werchter where Caleb was incredibly charismatic (4th July drunkeness) and I'm so happy to have seen them make a large crowd feel more intimate. I only wish I had seen them back in the day in a tiny sweaty club somewhere...

By the way, it's not the drunkenness that's the problem - there are plenty of bands whose shows are like GOOD parties, where the audience is energetic and up for it and, yes, drinking heavily. It's the people who can't handle their drink without descending to a level of "me me me" shouting and barely-controlled agression that spoil shows like this, and sadly that's who KoL's crowd are dominated by.

spot on review David, probably the worst gig (was that a gig or just a big chav fest in the park?) I've ever been too. It felt like a prison sentance or a painful visit to the dentist. God is that what people do for a fun night out these days??? Poke my eye out with a blunt spoon why don't you. Black Tower white wine, disgusting Divine Burgers....pissed up chavs shouting at people to 'sing along dis is me favorite one'...the only saving grace...I was stood near the exit. I'd like to see the band in a decent venue... like a pub.

I'm a big KOL fan but I have to say I agree with the reviewer. the majority of the crowd were drunken morons. and worse still, drunken morons from london - 'calm daaaan bruv, it's a faaakin concert' was the response from one of the bottle throwers when I squared up to him after one of his launches covered me in lager-piss. I saw kings of leon at a festival in luxembourg last year. same band, similar set, totally different crowd, amazing gig.

I honestly cant agree more, I was seriously disappointed last night. Hearing stuff like f*** it we will play the new songs is a load of rubbish as they have been playing new songs in their recent live shows. The crowd were awful, i got asked to 'behave myself' when i started jumping around for four kicks. Cant agree with what goldberry says about it was a gig for true fans, it was refreshing to hear songs such as wasted time, trani and milk, but the drivel I had to endure to hear these was appauling, for example why do they tone down mollys chambers? Yeah we all want to hear new kol songs but in place of favourites such as slow night so long, arizona, soft, and even red morning light? Fair enough I dont expect to hear all of these but they played arizona second at their gig at glasto 08, and redmorning light and slow night so long are probably two of their best songs. I dont know who chose the set but they got it all wrong, a predictable ending also. They confirmed theirselves as sell outs last night all the this is the best experience of my life crap, please! nobody was even singing the early stuff, just waiting there for sex on fire and use somebody.

Wow, these comments generally tell it how it was! Dreadful, drunken, moronic, bored-looking, scumbag, spoiling-for-a-fight, this-is-my-first-ever-outdoor-gig crowd. The sound was garbage, the food limited, expensive and nasty, the drinks over-priced, the wine - Black Tower? Jeez. Not enough toilets. not enough toilets. Sort it out, Live Nation - stop lining your greedy pockets, and get the infrastructure right. How can Glastonbury get it so right, and you so wrong? Awful awful awful. I actually thought the band were ok...

Quite obvious to me, the crowd was bored last night and that's why the morons resorted to throwing bottles full of pi$$. The sound quality & volume was appalling, the staging/lighting very basic and the band appeared as though they would rather be some place else. I am writing to LiveNation asking for a refund. The gig was a stinker.

Agreed Pirov. I've already drafted an email to LiveNation - greedy b*stards that they are. Feel free to write to them at Vent your spleen! Complaining is no good unless supported by constructive feedback to the promoter - good on you.

Agree with all the comments and glad its wasnt just us! Honestly, I thought the sound was appaling. In thes days of digital processing etc and the fact that the stage has been there a week it is simply unacceptable Added to that there were some so called fans filling up bittles with some liquid that wasnt coming from a tap if you get my drift and that made the whole event rather disgusting Ive seen KOL before and they were great but it just shows there are only a few bands who can really play these sort of venues and make it enjoyable and engaging As the people I went with said last night, great band but a very average performance. Go back to more intimate venues where you can control the sound and the production and get the real fans there too. I cannot stress how unimpressed we all were

Agree. I was there but kinda not there too! Why so quiet? I play it louder in my car. I wanted a gig, i got a garden party with the sound from an ipod dock. Sex on fire created a problem, it created new fans, fashion fans. Sex? On fire? he must mean me! Shame, I love KOL and have been listening since day one - whenevr body said his voice was weird! Still love them but I'll stick to the car! Worst, for me, I'm also a big Weller fan and he's recently gone nuts too! I'm off to the Wiggles with the kids!

Worst gig I've been to this year. A soulless performance from a band I used to like (before all the "real fans" get upset I actually own all the albums). The crowd was awful and completely ruined the evening. It seems that these days once something interesting goes mainstream it's only a matter of time before it becomes infested by chavs. A sad indictment really.

Not sure where the above posters were standing but we were at the second barriers and had a blast, the crowd was great, didn't see ANY chavs, the music was amazing and I thought the band were immense and did seem like they wanted to be there, not sure where that's coming from. Perhaps you guys should have got there earlier and made your way to the front?? The food was ok - your at a gig for goodness sake what do you expect? You don't have to drink Black Tower and that was one tiny stall, and there were plenty of loos that were actually very well kept - and yes I've been to festivals before so I've seen hell in a portaloo. Each to their own but i thought it was a great day and everything was very well organised, the vibe was chilled the bands was amazing and yes bottles got thrown but YOU'RE AT AT GIG!!! Perhaps next time you come to a gig in Hype park it should be to see the Proms??

the bottles and the food werent the problem. the crowd was shite, the set were shite, and they were as boring as shite.

I had a great night. Not been to a gig where there havent been idiots throwing shit so I just stand further back its not rocket science. If you thought KOL have sold out with their last few albums then dont buy tickets to their gigs - many people wanted to go last night but couldnt. I personally hate music snobs who cant like popular music just because. Music is there to make people happy - I saw many happy people last night (admittedly mostly so after finally reaching the front of the toilet queues). If that was the KOL at their worst then I cant wait to see them again. Preferably without the music snobs

I think I'd have to agree with the majority biew of it was okay but you expected much more, and especially for the cost. And to be fair anyone saying well if you were enarer the front and tried to enjoy it more, unfortunately 65000 people cant all line the 1st few front lines, hence there are speakers placed either side a little bit back (or were there). The majority of people went for the most well known of the newest album with a couple of mild sing alongs to the previous songs. Sex On Fire made them huge and although not their best technical musically minded song, probably their catchiest to most. Toilets were awful in a place like that, the venue Hyde Park for a first experience was a shitter. A good show at Glasto 08 when they were noticed to be able to do a headline spot and then bit downhill from there, I was hoping for a bit better show that Reading/Leeds last year but not much in it

Right then so 5 great bands in hyde park in the begining of the summer isnt good for some people. I remeber seeing people like you lot in the crowd crying about enjoying the music in ore of one of the best bands in the world at the moment, and dont give me banter about being an only by the night fan because im not that album broke me. But the set list drowned the few, only by the night songs. The sound was spot on bez. I think you all need to lighten up if you dont like that sort of atmosphere go see the jonas brothers. Fair enough there were chavs their but who cares if they enjoy the music if you werent so busy crying about every little detail and who around you could have looked forward and actualy watched kings of leon Instead your critisising an unbelievable gig. Enjoy the music. kaleb

Have to agree with the negative review and left last night very disappointed, was standing to the left of the sound and camera rig in the middle. The sound was bad and I could just about see the stage at 5'10" why was it set so low when hyde park is flat? Anyone behind me or shorter in front were pretty much paying to was the tele. Sound was bad and too quite(had the neighbours complained), support bands failed to get the crowd really for the KOL

I wish people would stop going on about the crowd, yes there were idiots in the crowd, but what can u do! This is about the performance of the band and I think you should give credit where credit's due, Kings of Leon played a storming set and I could clearly see them playing passionately and enjoying themselves as much as we were. Btw there is nothing wrong with releasing a few songs that may appeal to the masses, such as sex on fire, if it happens to be a great song! (to add another comment on an earlier poster, everybody was singing along to ALL the songs where I was standing not just the obvious ones). All bands progress and change after a couple of albums, they are never going to be the same as at the start, and they don't have to flounce around on stage to have stage presence, the music speaks for itself. Making a day of It, catching the other supporting bands, getting up close and personal to the stage (and I understand that 65,000 cant all line the front but if you are going to be bothered by these things then perhaps it's an area you should venture to) may have changed your outlook. I have been waiting to hear Kings of Leon play live since I first heard California Waiting all those years ago when their first album came out and they certainly did not disappoint, (and for the muso earlier who commented on our possible limited music collection they'll be pleased to know that although I do appreciate Oasis/RHCP the music I have is far more eclectic and extensive than just that thank you very much!) The band lived up to all my expectations and I can't wait to see them again. :o)

Dear Mr Cheal if you write a concert review you should make sure you get the song titles right!

Having seen the Kings live now four times, this gig was by far the best I have attended. Those complaining are not true Kings fans, they clearly joined the buzz following the release of "Only By The Night" and to be honest would be better in the future not bothering to buy tickets. This would allow the true fans who have experienced all of the progress that the band has made since "Youth and Young Manhood" to be able to buy tickets!!!!!! And as for the journalist writing this piece, I have no doubt you only truely love bands who are "underground" just so you can say you are different and superior to other people that listen to music. The king's are an amazing band because they have had the ability fo change their sound album by album as all truely great bands do. I am sure that if they had continued with the sound of the first two albums up to the fifth album you would be looking down your nose even more and calling them a band with a limited sound. What really makes me sick is journalists like you get into these gigs free when real music fans have to pay!!!!!

I usually don’t feel the need to respond to hack journalists posing as music critics/reviewers but when something is as blatantly inaccurate and mean spirited as Rick Pearson’s so called review of the Kings of Leon gig at Hyde Park last night…well I’m afraid I just can’t help myself. What annoys me the most is some people who can take or leave KOL will read his review and come away with a completely distorted view of the band, the show and most importantly, the fans that truly love and appreciate KOL and have done since 2003. The sold out headline show at Hyde Park was a career defining moment for the band and they rose to the occasion in every sense as far as I was concerned. I can’t speak for everyone of course but I do find it particularly insulting to be lumped in with this fan description It couldn’t have been further from the truth; yes of course there were fans there seeing Kings for the first time and yes of course the singing from the crowd was probably most audible during ‘Sex On Fire’ & ‘Use Somebody’ but from where I was standing (quite far back) there were people all around me singing along and enjoying every song old & new. Maybe you were just having a bad day or was just sent to review the gig at the last minute (which happens) but to pull out tired old journalistic comparisons and at least get the song titles correct! Maybe you just doesn’t respond well to authenticity, which isn’t a surprise as most music journalists seem to have a problem with the fact that KOL & Caleb as a frontman will not shape-shift to fit into their view of what a frontman should be like. Caleb has never really talked that much on stage and anyone that loves and appreciates the band accept that he is not at his most comfortable with the stage banter but why should he be forced to change - they are a rock n roll band after all and surely everyone is there to hear the music - connect to the songs and his lyrics. I defy anyone to peruse the lyrics of songs like ‘Arizona’, ‘Fans’, ‘Wicker Chair’ or ‘Cold Desert’ to name just a few, and call them ‘charisma-free’!! This media backlash they constantly have forced on them since the global success of ‘Only By the Night’ seems to be relentless in it’s nitpicking. As a band they have really not changed all that much from when they first started playing shows in the UK way back in 2003. The only difference I can see is that they still have to get used to not being the underdogs. Caleb especially seems to wrestle with how his band are perceived but thats authentic to me and thats why I love them even more. The irony is just as they are in a position to not give a shit about what people say about them they end up having to justify their success to failed hack muso journalists like Pearson in interview after interview. What this fan witnessed last night, and has been lucky enough to witness since first seeing them at Glastonbury all those years ago, is a band that is flourishing and just getting better. A band that truly appreciates their fans with a work ethic that puts most bands around today to shame. They deserve every ounce of success that they have worked so hard to achieve - they have earned it! I guess there will always be haters, its the way of the music industry but calling KOL ‘the ordinary band who became extraordinarily popular’ is a cheap lazy shot that I am getting fed up of hearing. For some reason OBTN connected globally with people that had never really known KOL before - it just happens like that sometimes - yes it annoys me that their Grammy’s are for ‘Sex on Fire’ & ‘Use Somebody’ and not ‘Trani’ or ‘On Call’ or ‘Wicker Chair’ but at the same time I am so happy they are finally getting the recognition they deserve especially in the US. If anything they have tried to not let it change them all they did was release a record that became bigger beyond their wildest dreams, they have been playing shows for fans ever since and have already practically recorded a follow up totally on their terms. They can’t help but be authentic, they continue to grow as musicians and get better and better every time I see them live. I’m so proud of them and I can’t wait to see where the next record will take them because they’re not going anywhere, some people just need to get used to the idea of people digging KOL and their authenticity cause if you don’t you are seriously going to be missing out and missing the point.

I got one of the song titles in my review wrong; "Don't Knock it" should have been "Notion". Apologies. But I stand by what I wrote. I saw Kings of Leon at Glastonbury years ago and was really impressed, but it's been a long slow downhill journey for them since then. And I wouldn't have minded being pelted with beer bottles so much (it wasn't the first time, by the way; I've also been canned, splashed and soaked, I've stood knee-deep in festival mud, traipsed, schlepped, queued, frozen, sweltered and been half-crushed in my years as a gig-goer) if the band had been better, if the sound had been louder, and if the people around me had been more interested in watching the band rather than shouting at each other and getting drunk. But to get soaked in beer (and possibly other unmentionable fluids, too) for that? It wasn't worth it.

Have to agree for over £50 for that gig was pretty poor. And the main reason I went was as I enjoy all of their material, not being funny but i didn't pay the money just for Only By The Night material. There is the point in maybe you should move into a nearer position but thats like saying again that if 65k people want to actually hear a band sing properly (funny thing they should want to and all that eh), you can't push everyone into one gap. And as it has been said by me and other, their show at Glastonbury 2008 was far better and how many people out of 140 odd k people that weekend do you reckon had to stand at the back and without any sound issues.

Kings of Leon played ok but I thought they lacked passion. Plus after sitting through four and a half hours of crappy support groups who you've never heard of before-who were all clones of one another minus The Drums (who were actually entertaining) - did my head in!!! I didn't pay to see these morons I payed to see KOL!!! Plus, I was right at the front then 2 mins in we got pushed over by drunken old blokes and dowsed in beer! I won't be going to another open air gig again, next time I'll see KOL in concert where it is all about the music and not how far you can push the body guards until they smack you one.

Plus, can I just add, you don't have to be a die hard fan of Kings of leon to enjoy there music! Jeez! Chill out a bit folks!

Who cares about the fith guy on stage? If he was bothering this guy so much he should have been looking elsewhere, which it seems he was as he noted and disapproved of the behavior of the crowd...probably a toff! I agree there were morons amongst us on the day but what do you want them to do, select the crowd according to their social skills? I got pushed to the floor twice and crushed which i did not enjoy, but the music more than made up for it. Also how can he compare KOL to U2? They are nothing alike! I absolutely detest U2 but loooove KOL as they let their music speaks for themselves. Go to a U2 concert if you want to see a flash idiot jump around on stage & then have him lecture you about third world poverty whilst he sings and then leave feeling deflated and depressed. The big difference is KOL are musicians, not performers. If you wanted to see a performance you would not have come, but if you wanted to listen to incredibly worded songs and see how passionate they are about their music then you were in the right place.

I am 5' 5" and I could see, hear and enjoy ever minute of the Kings of Leon. I have seen many bands over the years - I am 46 - and Wednesday night was one of the best I have seen.

I'm totally relating with the beer bottle thing....still have a cut/bruise on the front of my face.....I've always loved the Kings but will NEVER go to Hyde Park for a's just not safe......they really should have told the crowd to be cool.........

Can I just say you didn;t need to be an 'old' KOL fan to enjoy this gig. I'm nearly 14 and obviously was not into KOL when they first came out but once I heard Only By The Night I made the effort to listen to their back catalogue. What I find sad is that this was the ultimate concert for me - Ive been to quite a few over the past year and I will remember it for the rest of life and is now the bench mark for my gig going future (pity future bands!). Reviews like this have taken the edge of the experience. I simply say stuff the reviewers - its about the music of real bands who can write their own songs n play own instruments, which not a lot can do now days, rather than flash stage effects which mask a lack of talent.

I have been a kol fan for the last 6 years have been to lots of their gigs over the last few years, this gig was by far the best i have ever seen of them! Yes they don't dance around the stage, but lets not forget the fact they are not dancers, they are brilliant singers! If i had gone to the theatre to see hairspray i would expect fab dancing but i didn't. All i have left to say can you tell me what other band other than the kings of leon sound far far better live than they do on cd?

"True fans" I do not like this term! How many people are going to keep going on about what other music these fans have in their collection, i would consider myself a "true fan" but my music collection does not stop at oasis or u2, it carrys on to the stranglers( whom i have seen many times in the last 30 years) joy division, echo and the bunnymen, bob dylan the list is endless and i thought KOL were brillant!

Just to clear up one issue. There is a very strict decibel limit in Hyde Park. I agree it wasn't loud enough but that's nothing to do with the band and everything to do with Live Nation and Westminster/K&C Councils. For what it's worth...I loved it, and I'm not a 'fan' of the band, just of good music. Regardless of criticisms, to see a band playing live without anything on computer or backing track these days is incredibly rare and the Kings of Leon were spot on, they are the real deal and I say good luck to them.

I cant help but disagree with this, Caleb barely used to sing the words, but he is now not afraid to deliver them with the power he possesses! Whilst im not a huge fan of OBTH, They wouldnt be creating YAYM forever, as that is not true to them anymore as they have grown as a band. Ive seen them on 4 occasions, Whilst this was not my favourite, for me the blame stops at the venue and the crowds attitude, Fuelled im sure because of the endless wait for the band, maybe not the best idea despite how good those guys were.

Complete b****cks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The gig was AMAZING! Atmosphere was incredible and I spent the whole night dancing and singing! One of the best gigs I've been too. I loved the venue, made it feel like a mini fesitval! You grumpy old git ;)

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