Reviewed on Wednesday November 20

What happened to the menace, the danger, the don’t-give-a-Tennessee-toss snarls? Kings Of Leon dutifully worked through 20 or so of their classics and anthems-in-the-making from new album Mechanical Bull. They rocked the crowd – with songs like these they couldn’t fail – it just wasn’t very rock’n’roll.

There’s not much to say about Perth’s The Growl. They ticked the blues rock box but showed nothing to suggest they will break out of triple j’s playlists to inhabit the same universally appreciated space that KOL find themselves in these days. And given the Followill family’s popularity, you can’t blame them for cashing in, for plastering the place with banners for tour sponsor Klipsch speakers. Hey, it was a novelty to see them do their thing in a space barely big enough for 1,600 people when they can pack out fields 100 times as big.

But that was the problem. When you’ve headlined Glastonbury, perhaps it’s hard to get yourself up for a show like this. It was billed as an intimate gig, yet the Enmore is hardly the best place to get up close and personal with the truest fans. So the result, from opener ‘Supersoaker’ to unsurprising curtain-closer ‘Sex On Fire’, wasn’t unentertaining – far from it. It just lacked any sense of being special. There was none of Caleb’s aggression during his ‘I really don’t want to be here’ phase or the unbounded enthusiasm with which the band toured the first two albums. On bassist Jared’s birthday, he couldn’t have looked more uninterested.

But let’s accentuate the positives. Caleb’s voice was sensational and no hit was left out. The handful of songs from the new LP sounded great and went down well, in particular album highlight ‘Rock City’ (“I was running through the desert / I was looking for drugs”) and the ’80s FM sound of ‘Temple’. It feels like a new happy stage for Kings Of Leon, with fewer rows and their feet eased off the gas a little. And who can blame them for wanting that?


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