A powerful energy floated through the building last night. Every single person was head over heels with excitement and anticipation to see Kings of Leon in Vancouver. The opening act, The Whigs, held their own and rocked the house. The lighting was and stage setup were simple but perfectly planned. This was one of the best concerts I have seen in years, and every person I spoke with was blown off their feet by it.
To start the night, this was a general admission floor show, it was straight to the floor to get my piece of real estate. The group of fans at this show were varied, no pigeon hold could be applied to them. The range was mind blowing; there were punks and goths, there were preps and jocks, and there were the old and the young. To my surprise there was a large turn out for the opener, and people were loving what the band had to offer.
The Whigs took the stage, and immediately jumped into their set. They have a great style, and you can hear the range of influences through every song. Mostly they have a sound that would be a cross between Franz Ferdinand and Nirvana. Even the lead singer has a Cobain’esque sense of fashion. The music was energetic and caught the crowds attention immediately. I was worried about the opener as Kings of Leon are riding a pop wave right now, and there was a very good chance the opener would be eaten by that type of crowd. This was not the case, The Whigs rocked the house, they have my vote now, and are an amazing group. In fact I just went out and bought a ticket to see them in November at a local club. I advise people to find their way to a computer and to look these guys up, once you hear a song or two I guarantee you will want more.
During the intermission, there was an intense clambering of people trying to push their way to the front of the floor. As usual this rubbed some people the wrong way, and a few intense arguments broke out, some that nearly escalated into fights. The group of floor dwellers was younger, this is normal, but you always see a few people that dont know what to expect. Maybe it is there first concert, or maybe this is their first time on the floor, which ever it is, you can see the excitement and fear in their eyes. Once the lights dropped for the main act to take the stage, and that crowd started to bounce, those concert yearlings were gone. This made more room for the rest of us, but we were still packed in there like sardines.
When the band started to filter to the stage the crowd started losing their minds. The last member to take the stage was Caleb, the lead vocalist. Once his body was in view of the mass before him, the female portion were enthralled, and screamed their love across the stadium to him. As a band they have been playing shows of this size in Europe for a few years now, but the increased desire of the American continent for their music has them finally receiving the credit they deserve. The style they have on stage is as if they are all still playing a club gig though. It makes for a very intimate show, and from the moment they take to their first song, you are in love with their presence.
The set list was perfect, a mixture of new and old, with some lesser know pieces thrown in. Still every single song, the band had backing vocals from the fans before them. At least half a dozen time Caleb stopped singing and just pointed the microphone to the crowd, he looked stunned. The vocals were perfect, even though during Bucket there seemed to be a technical issue with his earpiece, which caused him to lose pitch. You could clearly see he was trying desperately to fix something with his ear phone, but was unable. So he did what any lead singer should do in this situation, he ripped it out and sang without the technical aid.
The guitar presence in this band is like the cherry on the sundae, its just adding to perfection. Matthew puts soul into every note, and you can feel it. The songs they played last night were just like the album versions, and the guitar work was spot on, note wise. The feeling he put into each solo was unique, and he made every song sound fresh. Of the entire band he seemed to be the only one taking advantage of the extras you can have when you play a stadium show. During most songs he was back lit by a giant spotlight, and he had a direct fan tossing his hair around on stage. The best part about it, was that it was not over done. He used it to highlight his style, not to cover it up.
The drums and the bass, are lost in most bands, but this is where the feel of a song really comes from. To me a great band starts with great beat and great rhythm, and it shouldn’t be over powering. Nathan, on drums, and Jared, on bass, seamlessly float each song along with out having to take center stage. This balance among the members really pulls their stage presence together. You cannot have four people fighting to be the top dog, it does not work. The arrangement of this band is perfect in this sense. With Caleb taking the lead light, and sharing it with Matthew it allows the rest to fade into the background.
Every song was perfect, barring the small technical malfunction in the later minutes of Bucket. The set list was exactly what the crowd was craving. The lighting and stage setup were minimalist and served their purpose. This was a perfect night, this was the definition of a great concert. The intensity with which Caleb sings is soul shaking, he puts himself in every word. The guitar work is mesmerizing, Matthews pours his heart into every note. The bass and drums are perfect, Jared and Nathan make each song what it is, and really define the band.
Calebs modesty was heart warming, after each song he thanked the crowd. During the last few songs, he broke into a little monologue. He described last night as being like a club gig, and in his humbleness he thanked each person from the bottom of his heart for attending. He also vowed to do something about high priced tickets, more than likely speaking of scalpers. It was refreshing to hear a new band speak their minds about this, usually this is left up to the Pearl Jams of the world.
All in all this was one of my favorite shows in years, the sound was top notch, the act was in love with the crowd and everything about the night clicked together magically. The modesty of the band is touching, it really shows you that they are not here to make a buck, they are here to share their hearts through music. They poured themselves out to the mass at General Motors Place. The vulnerability of their style is what really draws in the music aficionados, and the ability to rock is what keeps them around. I would urge everyone to go out and listen to at least one song by Kings of Leon, you will not be let down. And if you happen to get a chance to see them live, jump at it. I guarantee this will be one of the most memorable shows you will ever see. They are just one star in a universe of music, but right now they are among the brightest.