Kings of Leon: five things to know ahead of their Dubai gig
Saeed Saeed highlights five things that you need to know about the Kings of Leon, who return to the UAE tomorrow with a beachside gig at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai.
1 Sons of a preacher man
Formed in 1999, the Kings of Leon are a family affair, with the three Followill brothers – singer Caleb, bassist Jared and drummer Nathan – born to a father who was a church preacher. With their parents’ divorce and father retiring from the pulpit, the brothers picked up their instruments and began playing the rock music once denied to them. After moving from Oklahoma to the music city of Nashville, they were joined by their cousin Matthew on the guitar and the group began songwriting in earnest.
2 Reviving the South
The Kings of Leon emerged on to the scene on the back of the garage-rock revival at the turn of the century. While bands such as The Strokes and The Walkmen channelled the vintage rock sounds of 1970s New York, Kings of Leon turned heads by reviving the neglected sounds of the South. The band’s 2003 debut Youth & Young Manhood injected Southern rock with a new, brash urgency and mixed it up with gospel and country flavours. While later albums such as 2007’s Because of the Times and 2008’s commercial breakthrough Only by the Night saw them explore more-modern rock territory, it’s the Southern spirit – best exhibited by Caleb’s unmistakable drawl – that remains Kings of Leon’s calling card.
3 Celebrity magnets
With the band labelled the next big thing in rock, celebrities and models swarmed around the group in the hope of their cool rubbing off. At a 2008 gig in New York’s Madison Square Garden, the backstage guest list included Drew Barrymore, Ed Westwick, Cameron Diaz, Mark Ruffalo and Liv Tyler. Fellow musicians also paid respect, with The Strokes’ singer Julian Casablancas and the Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins in attendance. In March, Brad Pitt took a night off from the family and hung out with the band at an after-party following a Los Angeles performance.
4 Brotherly love
Rock ’n’ roll has a history of bands rife with sibling infighting and Kings of Leon are no different. Pent-up tensions from sudden success and continuous touring led to the band almost permanently imploding in 2011 after Caleb walked out halfway during a Texas concert. The band cancelled the rest of the tour, with Jared taking to Twitter to explain that the band was suffering from “internal sicknesses and problems that need to be addressed”. After taking a hiatus, they returned two years later with their sixth album, Mechanical Bull. Speaking to The Telegraph last year, Nathan said that the album’s cohesive feel is down to the band’s tight bond. “We’re as close as close can get,” he said. “We’re family, we know everything about each other.”
5 Taking on Dubai
The group will come to the UAE armed with a packed set of more than 20 songs, featuring selections from Mechanical Bull, including the singles Supersoaker and Temple, and the big hits Charmer and Use Somebody. As for the production values, the Mechanical Bull Tour is distinguished by its back-to-basics approach, jettisoning the pro-techniques of the past with a new focus on the musicianship. That said, given that this is at Atlantis Beach, the two large screens should be operating, so you won’t miss any of the onstage action. The Dubai performance is their first anywhere in the world since early April and kicks off a new run of European dates, so expect the boys to be all rested and ready to rock.
Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM