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Kings of Leon : London Brixton Academy : Dec 11

A gross, unholy mess, then, mired in muggy magic.

Kings of Leon : London Brixton Academy :  Dec 11

Unless you’ve been hiding in a six foot by ten foot hole under a remote Iraqi farmhouse for the
past seven months, you’ll have heard the talk. Shh! They’re not a real band at all! Just the evil
indie boyband fantasy of the dark-hearted svengali behind '80s skiffle one-hit-wonders The
Bluebells. They’re the country-punk Busted, it’s true! And
they’re not even related, or American; they were actually hired from the Weirds With Beards model
agency in Nuneaton and forced to watch Dukes Of Hazzard fifteen times a day until
they got the voices. And they all wear wigs and Jared’s mum is really Sue
Lawley and those are exactly the same jackets used in Almost
Famous. It’s all such a clever project.

True, from the gaggles of Kate Moss’s mates swigging champers from the bottle,
the spinning Queens Of Noizes making the mosher with two backs and the fact that you can sing
The Bluebells’ ‘Young At Heart’ to the tune of ‘Joe’s
Head’, there’s plenty of question marks hanging over the authenticity of Kings Of Leon’s[/url] Southern yokel
schtick tonight. But one thing reduces all the Faking It whispers to mere tittle-tattle, poppycock
and balderdash. There’s simply NO WAY that the biggest London show to date by a
cynical major label puppet act with fifty dollar notes spurting out of their arses would be so
downright shonky.

Oh no, this stage show was undeniably conceived, produced and hand-built in an
Alabama chicken shack and rowed to England on a log raft by
Huckleberry Finn. The Kings enter to a crackly Scott Walker[/url] tape before a backdrop
of lights last seen behind Shirley
Bassey[/url] during her 1976 residency at Southport Butlins. The sound
engineer has fed the Academy’s PA through a muddy ditch outside and whoever wired up the overhead
screens has connected them to the in-house CCTV by mistake, leaving us with an out-of-focus black
and white feed of the back of Caleb’s head throughout. As a blatant time-filler,
‘Molly’s Chambers’ gets played three times in a row - once as a sleazy red light
lounge-hooker drawl, once as a PCP-crazed hoedown, once dead straight - and the ‘sparkling
Christmas snow-scene’ they ordered for a finale looks like someone in the rafters has just shaken
a dusty blanket. Either the shadowy money men want to give us as realistic a reconstruction of a
gig in the Nashville Spitbucket & Firkin in 1974 as possible or
these guys are FO-WUR REE-YUL.

Shame, because fighting to break through these fossilized production values is a feisty, fiery
Southern punk band with the downhome melodic nous of prime Neil Young[/url], the dark gothic
preacherman vision of ‘Murder Ballad’-era Nick Cave[/url] and the vitriolic slaver of
Sex Pistols if they’d been
raised on the rodeo. When Caleb launches into his frantic Country Iggy[/url] barking at the final chorus of
‘Spiral Staircase’, ‘Red Morning Light’ and
‘Tranny’ - still the most romantic song about transvestite slaughter ever written
- it’s as visceral and savage as getting mowed down by a runaway combine harvester. Plus, the two
new songs that make up the encore - the wonderfully reclined pop waltz ‘Slow’,
which somehow finds a middle ground between Spiritualized[/url], The Wedding Present[/url] and (ahem)
The Bluebells, and the frustratingly tuneless closer ‘Fire My
Pistol’ - are way too obtuse and understated to be Phase Two of any Hicks Club 7
‘project’. Instead they’re the sound of Kings
Of Leon’s[/url] kicking off their grit-stained cowboy boots after a hard year riding
fashion’s bucking bronco and relaxing into the porch swing chair of the Big League. And they’d
have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky cotton wool speaker

A gross, unholy mess, then, mired in muggy magic. Have you heard the whispers? Beneath the dust
and dirt they’ve sheltered rock’s new Kings…

Mark Beaumont

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