Us southerners, we’ll always have a place in our heart for home. I’ve only been gone from Knoxville, Tenn., for about a month now, and I already miss the rolling hills and collard greens. But my homesickness was appeased, if only for a couple hours,on Wednesday night at Radio City Music Hall. Kings of Leon, once an up-and-coming band from a little town just outside of Nashville, could be heard throughout Rockefeller Center, delivering a raucous concoction of power chords and gritty, bluesy, southern-rock religion. Not too far removed from their third album, Because of the Times, the Followills — brothers Nathan, Caleb (pictured, right), Jared, and cousin, Matthew (left) — packed the 6,000-seat venue, keeping its congregation on their feet for the entirety of the two-hour show. Caleb’s throat-scratching vox cut through quickened renditions of “King of the Rodeo,” “Taper Jean Girl,” “The Bucket,” and others, while a foray of red, white, and green lights kept time to Nathan’s Mach 5 drum riffs.
During the opening sets by Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I dipped out to the lobby for the obligatory shot of Jack and overheard a guy behind me talking about the underappreciated Kings days of old. “I remember the time they came to Atlantic City and there was, like, 50 people in the audience,” he said as we both peered down to the lower level into a motley sea of Kings fans. Yes, the band has come a long way from Mt. Juliet, the last exit before Nashville’s three-lane highway narrows into two.
Even though the crowd and I were toe-tapping, head-bobbing, and air-guitaring to “Molly’s Chambers” and “California Waiting,” I was becoming frustrated. I could sense the energy beginning to wind down with the Dylan-esque “Trani” and I feared my favorites were forgotten. But back they came for an encore to the chords of “Knocked Up,” playing nearly all seven minutes of the road-trip odyssey. “Charmer,” “On Call,” and “McFearless” followed and I was content. My only regret was when I stumbled back onto the streets, I was greeted with the rush of taxi cabs, the candence of street vendors, and the loud wail of police sirens, instead of a calm, cool Tennessee night. Fans who’ve seen the Kings in action are now encouraged to share their experiences.
addCredit(” Kings of Leon: Chris Pizzello/AP”)