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What a Night for a Dance and Revelry!

The Kings of Leon When You See Yourself Brisbane Tour
 

More than 10 years since I started listening to Kings of Leon, I finally got the chance to see them face-to-face! And that might have been one of my favourite concerts I attended by far because I knew almost all the songs, it was affordable, and they offered a superb visual experience that enhanced the performance.


In March 2021, I already had the hint that KoL is touring Australia as Ticketek has been sending a message to “waitlist for these great events”…then I saw the poster on Facebook. Tickets went on sale a month after for the 29 March 2022 showing in Brisbane and I got mine less than 15 minutes after the opening of the pre-sale. Yeah, I know I'm a Superfan. Sadly, I received an email from the organiser early this year that the concert was postponed for a new date (02 November 2022) “due to the ongoing border restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic…” It was worth the wait though!


And this was it. I prepared for this and got into the venue (Brisbane Entertainment Centre) a bit early as I was excited to get into the action – the early bird gets the early spot when it comes to GA tickets, hey! It was not as packed I expected when I got into the GA grounds, so I got a good spot right away.


The Temper Trap opened their set with Thick as Thieves from their third and latest album, an instant groove maker with a lush chorus part apt for an opener. They immediately followed it up with Love Lost, which introduced Dougy Mandagi’s falsetto to viewers who have never heard of the band’s materials before.


The opening hook of Trembling Hands and the explosiveness of Rabbit Hole reminded me why The Temper Trap was chosen to open for KoL. These songs exemplify the energy and equal parts of quiet and fiery expected of modern indie rock. The band then shifted into a three-part guitar harmony (and a bass guitar), with drummer Toby Dundas picking up a telecaster from behind the drum kit, and then everyone blasting off towards the end after absorbing the solemnity of Soldier On.


Science of Fear brought us back to the early Temper Trap edginess, though it was easy to forget as it did not have much impact on me, and certainly the uninitiated audience. However, the band recaptured people’s attention with Dougy’s soaring and reverberating falsetto inside the venue during Resurrection and the energy was maintained as they went into a barrage with Drum Song. The band closed the set with their biggest hit, Sweet Disposition, which absolutely brought the fans down memory lane hearing the skipping notes of that iconic dotted eight delay guitar intro, which subsequently made everyone sing this nostalgic indie anthem.

 

Kings of Leon kicked off right away with the first track from their latest album, When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away, which coincides with the tour and album title. I felt like they could have played other songs as an opener, as I think it was not strong enough to hype people up. But it was still acceptable and solid. Subsequent tracks Slow Night, So Long, King of the Rodeo or Taper Jean Girl could have given the house more energy right off the bat. But to be fair, all their songs really got everyone singing and bouncing all night. I was excited hearing and singing these three songs from their second album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, which I certainly know by heart as I used to listen to KoL’s earlier albums every day. So, seeing them perform these songs and singing them with a thousand other warm bodies a few metres away from the band was surreal. I never imagined this day to happen. The band continued with the lead single off the latest album, The Bandit, which features raw and straightforward alternative rock. Although I feel like the song does not offer much innovation and punch as their previous materials as it seemed formulaic.


My favourite part of the night though was when the venue cooled down as Caleb sung the first line of Revelry with only a single spotlight focused on him. This was my goosebumps moment and I almost got teary-eyed because of the memories and emotions the song was drawing out. Then it seamlessly continued to Manhattan, which featured an earnest singing and no-frills rhythm section. Those songs were too honest, too heartfelt, and that moment was too delicate, too powerful.


Time in Disguise was interesting as it featured some video clips and digital art on the stage screen, which seemed to signify war and surveillance. This was my favourite of all the songs they sang from the latest album, a melodic and rhythmic piece that almost resembles the power of Radioactive. Find Me was more energetic and more aggressive though less formidable, still, I liked the dynamics of the song and the bridge break where the band was able to hold that rhythm section tightly throughout.


On Call was on point with that iconic synth intro and verse rhythm breaks, bringing me back to the early years of my KoL obsession. And once I saw Caleb getting an acoustic guitar in the middle of their set, I knew right away that they’d be doing Fans (fun fact: the intro of Fans is the first thing I always play when checking out a new acoustic guitar when visiting a music store. It allows me to test the resonance of the body, string action, and feel of the neck. Great progression as well, of course). Although singing it in the same key as the original seemed to push Caleb a bit towards the end, it was electric from start to finish.

Back Down South was a bit laid back as it featured a country feel but a perfect chorus tune for a stadium crowd. The same is true with Pyro where the band let the crowd sing the bridge “Watch her roll, can you feel it?” until the Centre blasted with a heavier burst of the instruments towards the last chorus. And as soon as the lights went off, Jared played his iconic whammy-pitched bass line for Closer, which immediately followed a roar and sing-along from the audience. Towards the end, Matthew threw in a few tasty overdriven licks that were not similar to the recording. I just wish they doubled the measure for him so we could have savoured his guitar solo.


Molly’s Chamber was the only song from KoL’s debut album they played at the concert. It was short, sweet, and fun. It was the opposite of Crawl though, one of my favourite rock tunes from Only by the Night. The overdriven bass was dominating the wall of sound but still complemented Nathan’s steady drumbeat, Caleb’s husky vocals and Matthew’s humbucking distorted riffs. Another one of my favourites in the set and the catalogue was The Bucket as it got everyone dancing, jumping, and just kicking up their heels.


The venue shifted to a more dramatic scene as the band played the opening guitar pattern for Cold Desert. It was so genuine as you can feel the pain and sincerity, especially towards the end where the instruments faded out a bit before Caleb poured his heart out singing the last part. While Caleb played the intro of Milk, he encouraged the crowd to sing with him – the lyrics displayed in huge letters for everyone to see. This song is particularly difficult to sing if you’re not familiar with it since there are some tongue-twisting parts, but the crowd got on with it. The band closed the first set with one of their most popular singles, Use Somebody, where the crowd impeccably belted out the whole song from beginning to end.


The band took a break for a bit as the crowd craved for more. People were chanting “one more song!” but I felt like the band was so exhausted from playing for more than 2 hours non-stop. I knew they needed a break. I admit I did not want one more song, I was hoping for one more set though. They came back and played three more songs for the encore.

They came back on stage for Knocked Up and started with the kick drum-hats-bass and guitar harmonics intro. The starlight backdrop even made the moment startling. Waste a Moment, the first track off WALLS, prepped the crowd for a more intense moment as it felt the same energy, rhythm, and force as Sex on Fire – the final song of the night. This hit got everyone driven and stimulated to end the night. Every time a rest comes at the end of each stanza line, I felt the energy in and out and bouncing off from the band to the crowd and back again. Undeniably, everyone was on fire singing the chorus together and bringing the house down as the night ended. The whole experience proved the capability of KoL and this song to command a stadium or arena.


The concert summarises Kings of Leon’s more than 20 years of musical brilliance, which is marked by accessibility and originality. The light works, visuals and production value of the whole show were top-notch. It was indeed a great night, and it was worth the wait. I just wish that they sang Notion, Charmer and Arizona, but I have no qualms or questions, it was all worth it.

Fun fact: This was the first concert I've been to where I bought myself a merch!



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