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Concert Reviews:
Kings of Leon deliver hard-hitting show at The Palace

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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AUBURN HILLS – One thing Kings of Leon doesn’t do is waste a lot of time.

The Nashville quartet, comprised of three brothers and a cousin, roared through 27 songs in just under two hours during its Mechanical Bull Tour concert on Tuesday night, Feb. 11, at The Palace. It was an impressive display of musical economy, a start-to-finish blitz that covered plenty of ground and never let up for lengthy jamming, gratuitous showmanship or idle chatter from frontman Caleb Followill – who did, however, see fit to remind the small but exuberant crowd of the band’s name three times..

If there was a notable lack of the usual kind of arena-sized charmisma from the band members, Kings of Leon made its case with assured, authoritative performances and tightly rendered arrangements. The idiosyncratic rootsiness of the group’s earliest material has long since been replaced by sophisticated arrangements and a taut, punchy energy that kept the show in first gear throughout.

The visual touches, meanwhile, were striking – an extensive video production on a huge rear-stage screen, “snow” that feel from the rafters cold desert and lasers during the three-song encore – but always served to complement the songs.

The night was dominated, not surprisingly, by Kings of Leon’s more recent, and more commercially successful, fare, and the eight songs from last year’s “Mechanical Bull” – particularly “Temple,” “Supersoaker,” “Rock City” and “Family Tree” -- fit solidly alongside their predecessors. The group, which played the opening "Charmer" entirely behind a white curtain, really hit stride during a breathless, rocking late-show combination of “Don’t Matter,” “Radioactive,” “The Bucket,” “Molly’s Chambers” and “Four Kicks,” while more deliberate, measured tracks such as “Southbound,” “Beautiful War,” “Cold Desert” and the bluesy-tinged “Trani” provided necessary bits of beathing room.

The biggest hits, of course, were appropriately positioned, with “Use Somebody” towards the end of the main set and “Sex on Fire” closing the night, but not before Kings of Leon showed off the depth and quality of the rest of its catalog.

Opening the night was another winner – a Grammy Award winner, in fact. Newcomer Gary Clark, Jr. from Austin, Texas, dazzled the Palace crowd with the blues-rock guitar fireworks on a cover of Robert Pelway’s “Catfish Blues,” “Bright Lights,” “Don’t Owe You a Thang” and the tight grooving “Numb.” The 50-minute set established Clark as more arrival than comer, and you can bet word of mouth from Tuesday’s performance will generate some excitement for a return visit – hopefully soon.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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