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Gig Review : The Kings of Leon are on fire in the SSE Belfast

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Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM

The SSE Belfast arena was the venue for a special concert as this night the super powered Nashville alt rockers Kings of Leon were in town.

The queue was huge and undeterred by any threats of rain and as they milled through security there was an excitement in the air. They were ready and didn’t want to waste a moment as the river of fans flowed into the arena itself.

Soon it was time to get the show started and with a large applause and cheering on came the support act, Inhaler.

This Dublin based alt rock band of Elijah Hewson (vocals and Guitar) Robert Keating (bassist), Josh Jenkinson (guitarist) and Ryan McMahon (drummer) took to the stage like it was their most natural environment. Having been ranked number 5 on 2020 in BBC’s “Sound of..” music poll and having just released their debut album in 2021 this was a great opportunity to show their skills to a sold out concert.

Starting with “It won’t always be like this” and dropping songs like “Totally”, “Who’s your money on?” and “My King will be kind” they immediately proved they had that extra special something as the crowd just went wild. The people standing and in the seats were all singing along, and in-between Elijah’s easy-going chat drew the audience in even further.

More great music like “In My Sleep”, “These are the days” and “Cheer up baby” continued their approval with many already knowing their songs and new fans being won over with ease. Finishing with “My honest face”, Inhaler proved they were where they were supposed to be – on stage in an arena.

Their tight work with the instruments, light rock tones and unbelievable special sound imprinted themselves on all who were there. This band will only continue to grow, and it won’t be too long before they headline arenas themselves.

With a quick turnaround, things soon started happening on stage. As the instruments were still going through their last checks the massive monitors lit up and the cameras started panning the audience and picking out lucky (or unlucky) punters randomly with huge cheers going up as each one under the spotlight reacted to the sudden fame they found.

There were a few firm favourites with the whole arena erupting every time they were on screen all tying into the theme of “When you see yourself are you far away?”. Then before too long the inimitable giants of arena alternative rock strode onto the stage to the jubilation of the whole packed out arena, it was deafening!

Caleb, Jared, Matthew and Nathan Followill were joined by Liam O’Neil (on keyboards, percussion, backing vocals) and Timothy Deaux (rhythm guitar, percussion, backing vocals) on stage to put on a full packed and punchy show that everyone there would remember.

Indeed, the first song is “When you see yourself are you far away? Which leads on into songs like “The Bandit”, “Slow Night, So Long”, “King of the Rodeo”, “Taper Jean Girl” and “Knocked Up” they confirmed for all there that they were not only a superb musical experience but were firmly on top of their game. With an astounding light show that mesmerised and perfectly flowed with the band’s presence on stage this was a full-on performance.

Caleb was a focal point for the show comfortably chatting throughout and getting a massive response every time. Even with that, all the members of the band were clearly integral and they had a musical symbiosis that just highlighted why the Kings of Leon deserve the huge reputation they have.

On they went with “Manhattan”, “Time in Disguise”, “Waste a Moment”, “Radioactive” and “Find Me”, with each and every song note clear and Caleb’s distinctly recognisable Nashville smoky vocals. The rhythmic work and melodies all distinctive all the while melting into one fuzzy wall of soulful music.

They just kept hammering home with “On Call”, “Pyro”, “Crawl” and “Molly’s Chambers” as the entire packed-out arena flowed, swayed, waved and rocked out to the honest emotional sound that rolled of the stage.

“Echoing”, “Pickup Truck”, “Arizona” and “Milk” kept the whole show going, and even though it was nearing the end of their set it felt like they had only started 10 minutes earlier. Whether you are a superfan, fan or don’t mind them, this show is a tour de force on transporting you out of your own world. From rocking out to ballads, the band delivers it all with an poignant weight that delivers genuine passion. Caleb’s vocals have a powerful easy listening sound that is filled out with a soulful world-weary sentiment that just echoes in your soul. You may or may not like Kings of Leon but they have an undeniable relatability that means you can just keep listening to them.

They finish the main set with “Fans” and “Use Somebody” to a thunderous applause that you could feel physically.

Of course, just like an MCU movie, you never leave until the lights come up as you might miss something. And back onto stage they came with “Supermarket”, “The Bucket” and the iconic “Sex On Fire”. The crowd, already seemingly exhausted through their workout for the past couple of hours, found that one last second wind to really show Kings of Leon how much they were appreciated.

Overall, as a support band Inhaler did a great job of landing such a great stage and making sure no one could say they wasted their opportunity. They took it with both hands and filled the stage with fantastic music that really won over everyone there. Meanwhile, Kings of Leon are a band all of their own, with their own distinctive sound that flows between solid rock out songs to the sentimentally emotion filled ballads. Their songs connect, simple as that.

The “When you See Yourself, Are You Fare Away?” tour continues throughout the world and you can find where the are playing at https://kingsofleon.com/

Photography by MPM

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