Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring Muna, The Murder Capital, Shura, Ezra Furman, Spector and loads more.
Order a copy
September 2019
Reading & Leeds

Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018

They need a total reboot.
Sign up or log in to follow artists
Published: 5:45 pm, August 27, 2018Words: Dillon Eastoe. Photos: Corinne Cumming.
Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018

Billed alongside pop-punk shape shifters Fall Out Boy and rap megastar Kendrick Lamar, booking Kings of Leon to close Sunday night at Reading feels not so much ‘safe’ as ‘haven’t we been through this already?’ 

Because time is a closed loop and all that, last time Kings of Leon headlined in 2009, Fall Out Boy played lower down the bill in their last UK performance before hiatus. While that was a fond farewell - complete with the biggest hits, a Journey cover and a chance to say goodbye - Kings of Leon grumbled at the crowd’s levels of enthusiasm before Caleb smashed up his guitar (a one of a kind relic, smart move) and flounced off.

Where their fellow 2018 headliners have constantly reinvented and evolved, the best moments of Kings of Leon’s set tonight could all have been drawn from their 2007 outing.

Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018

An opening suite from ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ is a sad reminder of just how exciting the Kings were when they first burst out of Tennessee, ‘Taper Jean Girl’ getting the audience grooving along with Jared’s strutting bass. They wisely draw extensively from ‘Because of the Times’ - the threat and sense of adventure present in ‘My Party’, ‘McFearless’ and especially ‘Charmer’ something they’ve failed to replicate since ‘Sex on Fire’ made them stadium stars. ‘Fans’ shows they used to be able to do festival-uniting anthems without the risk of sending people to sleep, and ‘On Call’ still has one of the best guitar solos going.

Never ones to offer too much going forward, the quartet hunch over their instruments and dish out licks in workmanlike fashion. Nathan sports a doo rag on his head, which is only acceptable if you’re Steve van Zandt. You aren’t Steve van Zandt, Nathan.

Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018
Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018

The intensity drops once the Followills start dipping into their later releases, and never picks up again. ‘Crawl’ and ‘Find Me’ are rare examples that the old fire must still be burning somewhere deep down, but ‘Notion’ and ‘Over’ demonstrate it’s suffocating under layers of U2-aping bluster. ‘The Bucket’ is the last dose of energy before a trio of the band’s more recent 'hits' are dutifully handed out to anyone who still cares at this point.

From their first three records, we know Kings of Leon are capable of something special, but they need a total reboot to revive that spirit. On tonight’s evidence, they don’t seem like the kind of group to tear up the rulebook and start over.

Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018
Kings of Leon waste their moment headlining Reading 2018

Give all this a try

The Murder Capital: More is less
Feature

The Murder Capital: More is less

The Murder Capital are a band that arrived with expectation. Before their first track dropped, word of mouth had already begun to spread about five men from Dublin kicking up a fuss.
Feelin' hypersonic: Sam Fender
Cover feature

Feelin' hypersonic: Sam Fender

Sam Fender is a man on a mission. Already beating current ‘biggest noise on the block’ Lewis Capaldi to a Brit Award, as his debut album nears its much-anticipated arrival, the sky really is the limit for an artist not short of stuff to say.
Friendly Fires: Can't wait forever
Feature

Friendly Fires: Can't wait forever

It’s over eight years since Friendly Fires released their last album, but - after a prolonged period away - they’re finally back on the dancefloor with the shimmering ‘Inflorescent’.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.
CONTACT PRIVACY ADVERTISE

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing