Stadium Of Light
The weathermen promised rain, which never materialised, we even had blue skies and mostly white clouds greeted the three bands, Mona, White Lies and of course Kings Of Leon with an arena full of Northern folk, it was good fun, as Christopher Brown explains…
Sunderland’s Stadium of Light saw 55,000 music fans walk though its stalls on Friday to see US rockers Kings of Leon and a supporting cast of the bands Mona and White Lies. The crowd was made up of people from every walk of life, rock fans who are accustom to this kind of thing, trendy teen girls (lots of them), middle age couples, groups of drunken lads ready to party with the groups of drunken lasses, younger teens with their parents by their side, and those special people that seemed to pay the price of a ticket just to say they were at “that big thing that happened at the stadium”. The atmosphere was a good one and everyone seemed to be in party mode.
Both supporting acts went through the motions to get the crowd warmed up for the main event, but most the crowd were unresponsive, that may have had something to do with the sound set up not doing them justice. The stadium was still filling when Mona took to the stage. The Nashville band worked hard, but as with White Lies who played an enjoyable extended set trying to cover for their headliners late arrival. Both did not have the best sound, actually even KOL suffered with the volume initially, standing as I was, at this point 20 foot in front of the sound desk tent, the sound was a little passive, I have heard alternative spoken word gigs with more volume it did improve later though.
After both supporting acts were done the stadium was full up and ready to rock, but where were the band everyone had come to see? They were scheduled to take the stage at 8:15pm but at 9:15pm there was still no sign of them and rumours were circulating that the band weren’t coming, so that made it the perfect time for the rock star helicopter arrival and rush to stage, and that’s what happened, the band took to the stage at around 9:35pm and were greeted by an almighty roar from the patient crowd.
They opened up with the song Four Kicks and the packed in standing crowd went crazy for it, they jumped around, cheered, and rocked along to the fan favourite. The standing area was packed and at some points even looked dangerous as it seemed that crowed control was almost non-existent, but the people in the now “liquid” covered crowd didn’t seem to mind and just kept on partying. In the first ten songs the band gave the crowd an onslaught of hits such as, Taper Jean Girl, The Bucket, Fans, and Back Down South. It seemed old and new songs were met with cheers from different sections of the crowd. Material from the bands earlier albums had some of the younger fans looking confused, while some of the older fans seemed as if they just wanted the early albums to be played. Lead singer Caleb Followill seemed to be in fowl and frustrated mood about the band being forced to turn up late and he made an apology to fans, blaming the London Customs for their late arrival. His mood soon improved and the band got into party mode and asked fans to party with them “on this beautiful night”, the fans took the request seriously. The band kept on rocking through hits from every album and the longer the gig went on the louder the crowd got; judging by the sea of hands and the blue sky with only white clouds, must have also helped. Caleb explained they would need to play through to their encore as they never had time to go off stage, he asked fans to “shake your asses” as they played though the final set of songs, again the crowd did as he said. The band rocked on and played through songs like, Pyro, Molly Chambers, and On Call. They then slowed thing right down and played the song Knocked Up, this was the part of the gig when the divide in fans was evident, it was clear that quite a few people did not know this song and were waiting for inevitable sing along that would soon occur, and occur it did. As soon as the ten minute Knocked Up was over, the band rocked straight into Use Somebody and the stadium irrupted as the band finally played a song that everyone in the stadium knew. The sing along was impressive but not as impressive as a few minutes later when they played Sex on Fire. It was clear that more than a few people were at this gig for two these two songs. The sad thing is that once Sex on Fire was over, around a quarter of the crowd ether assumed that was it, or had heard what they wanted to hear and proceeded to leave the stadium. In actual fact the band rocked on and finished the show with the song Black Thumbnail and it was an impressive finish. The band rocked the last song hard and gave it their all. In true stadium rock fashion the epic show was finished off with an impressive firework display that the remaining crowd went crazy for.
Despite the disappointing quarter of the crowd, this was a very good show from a band that clearly enjoys what they do. The band satisfied every kind of fan and in no way shy away from the early songs that made them the band they are today, despite coming on late and having limited time, Kings of Leon rocked Sunderland and showed everyone why they deserve a stadium tour.
Main Review: Christopher Brown
Additional: Steve Janes
All Photos: Neil Johnson