Kings Of Leon : New York Bowery Ballroom

They've proved themselves royally...

In the UK, this swamp-rock trilogy would be one hot ticket, but their NYC reception - although eager - is tinged with skepticism. The 22-20's and Jet are relatively unknown here, and Kings of Leon are only beginning to grab headlines, so much of the sold-out crowd is down tonight out of sheer curiosity. There’s no Kate Moss in the house this time, just Nick Yeah Yeah Yeahs (nursing, like NME, a brutal hangover from last night’s Raveonettes gig), and a smattering of ironic mullets who patently made the trek from Williamsburg. It’s a far less hipster-heavy crowd than new bands usually draw in this town; these are the faces of earnest music fans (some of them well old enough to be the Kings' mas and pas), fond of fancy guitar pickin’ and, apparently, facial hair.

First up, Lincoln bluesters 22-20's are a revelation. Now augmented by a keyboard player (who later joins the Kings for a tune), the sound is taut, edgy and incredibly grown up for such a green and gawky group. Bets are on that

they’ll be headlining their own show here within six months. Jet, meanwhile, fail to justify the hyperbolic verbiage they’ve been given lately. Thumpingly derivative and profoundly unsexy (though disturbingly still eager to show their chests), they only really take off during the balls-to-the-wall AC/DC squall of

‘Take It Or Leave It’. Most of the crowd choose the latter, and repair to the bar.

Kings of Leon, however, are The Real Deal. Jet should be taking notes, for this is how it’s done. Jared (in white shoes, tiiiiiight jeans and a leather jacket)

struts back and forth across the stage getting cocky with his chewing gum, Matthew struggles to see his frets through his fringe, and Caleb is surely the only man alive who can rock a schoolyard retard haircut from 1976 and patchy ‘tache and still be heart-throbbingly handsome.

By the time they’ve knocked out a throbbing, propulsive ‘Holy Roller Novocaine’ and prettily smoky ‘California Waiting’, someone in the back is shouting ‘Genius! GENIUS!’ and a coterie of ladies are boogying up front.

Anyone who came here tonight expecting to see southern-fried retro-rawk throwbacks surely left chastened and amazed, ready to follow the Followills

devotedly. If this was the Kings’ statement of intent to rock their homeland the heartland, they proved themselves royally up for the task.

April Long

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