Gig review: Kings of Leon at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Rock megastars Kings of Leon make their long-awaited return to the UK and put on a rock masterclass in Leeds.

Kings of Leon at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
Kings of Leon at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

On Tuesday evening, American rockers Kings of Leon graced the stage at the First Direct Arena in Leeds for their highly anticipated When You See Yourself tour – named after their eighth album, released in 2021.

The Nashville natives came on to the stage in their usual nonchalant way and swiftly opened proceedings with the aforementioned When You See Yourself, a mellow, laid-back track that evokes a feeling of meaningful contemplation.

Other songs from the latest album included Time in Disguise, Echoing and The Bandit – a rhythmic, catchy number with great gusto and aplomb.

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    Kings of Leon at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

    Long-time fans may remember the iconic long hair and moustaches from the Youth and Young Manhood album, but the band, along with changing their look, have also tweaked their style slightly. More vulnerable ballads include Supermarket, Golden Restless Age and Claire and Eddie – a song with deeply poignant lyrics about climate change.

    The eclectic audience were treated to a set of over 20 songs with several from their new album as well as hits from their previous seven albums.

    The tracks from Aha Shake Heartbreak offer a nostalgic stroll down memory lane with the likes of Taper Jean Girl, The Bucket, Milk and Slow Night, So Long proving as popular as ever with revellers singing in unison to the noughties classics.

    Nearly 15 years have elapsed since Kings of Leon had their meteoric rise to fame with 2008 album Only By The Night, the band’s fourth, but most widely acclaimed album to date, with mega hits Use Somebody, Sex On Fire and Closer. The band still have the same energy and omnipresence, albeit a little scaled back, relaxed and raw.

    Frontman Caleb Followill urged fans to get up on their feet as he sung a stirring rendition of On Call. The near-capacity crowd gladly obliged and allowed Caleb to showcase his powerful bourbon-infused vocals and re-affirm why they have won a brace of Grammy and Brit Awards.

    Old favourites Knocked Up, Manhattan and Pyro were well received.

    An incredibly strong end to the main set featured Arizona, the timeless Milk, Fans and Grammy Award winning Use Somebody, rousing fans from their seats and prompting them to sing and dance in unison once again.

    A rapturous applause signalled an encore with the rockers playing a further three songs. The first being a raw, stripped-back version of Back Down South – a real testament to the Followills’ song witing ability. This was followed by classic crowd-pleaser, The Bucket before the roof was well and truly blown off the First Direct Arena with Sex on Fire.

    The performance was slick and polished, with great lighting – not surprising from a band who have been at the top of their game for two decades.

    Although fans had been waiting after several rearranged shows over the last few years, I’m sure all will agree that it was worth the wait. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.