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Live Review – Kings of Leon – 30th June 2024 – BST Hyde Park, London, UK

5 min read
. @BSTHydePark explodes as @KingsOfLeon light up the capital alongside @PaoloNutini , @thevaccines and @cannonstheband for Day 2 of the 2024 series! @outsideorg

Kings of Leon | Photo by: Dave Hogan

It had almost been seven years to the day since Kings of Leon last headlined BST Hyde Park. The band have been riding high ever since 2008’s Only By The Night launched them into worldwide acclaim and success, and just this year their latest release Can We Please Have Fun has seen huge success and praise. It’s safe to say that Sunday night’s return was a welcome one.

After arriving reasonably early for a quick trip to the bar, the excitement started immediately, with the arrival of LA indie pop act Cannons kicking off proceedings on the Great Oak Stage. Singer Michelle Joy’s glitzy attire and the band’s general bouncy attitude seemed to bring out the obscured sunshine, as well as the hoards of people who until that point had been hiding out at the many bars and food stalls. Their single Crush even got a singalong from the gathering masses, something that Michelle appeared appreciative of.

Cannons | Photo by: Dave Hogan

Gary Clark Jr. arrived bang on 4 o’clock on a wave of feedback and various percussive instruments, his band and trio of backing singers building the anticipation. After what felt like minutes and minutes of foreshadowing, Maktub truly began with its powerful, fuzzy riff and larger-than-life backing vocals. This Is Who We Are rung out with a thundering beat and roaring solo, while one of his latest tunes, recorded with the legendary Stevie Wonder, What About The Children got the audience bopping to the sludgy groove. 

There was just enough time between sets to catch Red Rum Club over on the Rainbow Stage. The Merseyside sextuple got the crowd dancing with their infectious, saccharine indie tunes. Blaring trumpet and catchy melodies adorned every song, includes fan favourites like Vanilla and Vibrate. They concluded their set with the memorable ‘Who-ha!’ sample on popular single Would You Rather Be Lonely. 

Vaccines | Photo by: Dave Hogan

The Vaccines were up next on the Great Oak stage, and after passing by the Samba dancers on our way back, the summer party vibes were hitting home. They was truly cemented by the shimmering guitars and peppy melodies of the now veteran indie band, opening with one of their latest song, Love To Walk Away, before heading into a trio of classic bops, Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra), Post Break-Up Sex, and Wetsuit. Handsome and Heartbreak Kid proved to be the true highlights, the fast pace and energetic performances riling the crowd up.

Paolo Nutini | Photo by: Dave Hogan

A major vibe change came with Paolo Nutini, though his set was just as energetic and charismatic, if not more so. Beginning with Afterneath, Paolo continued with a string of his most popular songs, some of which like New Shoes and Pencil Full of Lead coming out heavier than their recorded counterparts. The former especially was a more dower affair vocally, but it worked in conjunction with the rest of the performance, and arguably it was intentional for Paolo to save his magnificently gravelly voice for the big finale. The Scotsman got as close as physically possible to the audience, and in an almost religious delivery, sung the entire first verse of Iron Sky a cappella. In doing so, he nearly brought this audience member to tears, and it’s probably fair to say a few more alike.

Kings of Leon | Photo by: Dave Hogan

Finally it was time for the main event. Nestled within the baying crowd we waited with bated breath only to have the bubble burst with the atmospheric but building opener to their latest album, Ballerina Radio. Despite the slower start, every line was sung back at the group passionately. It was the same for every single song as it turned out, even for deeper cuts like Seen, and Milk. A mix of old and new kept the audience on their toes, the band going from 2007’s On Call to 2004’s Taper Jean Girl. The lighting setup was nothing short of fantastic, if at times completely blinding, though with a sold out crowd watching on from a distance it was an absolute necessity. For Nothing To Do and My Party there were men in white overalls running about with 90’s camcorders, getting into the faces of each brother and providing a unique and oddly intrusive view of them whilst they performed. The idea stemmed from the music video for the formerly mentioned single, and it was great to see them implement it in such a way. 

Kings of Leon | Photo by: Dave Hogan

Mega hit Sex On Fire came much earlier on than most people expected, the audience singing the main riff back to them in an almost surprised tone. Despite this, however, there were plenty of cuts for the fans to lap up. 2010’s Pyro took had the crowd waving their phone touches in the air – even though the sun was still well and truly shinning – and lead single from the latest album, Mustang, got people jumping and screaming their lungs out to the surreal lyrics ‘are you a mustang or a kitty?’ Even Molly’s Chambers from all the way back on their debut record managed to produce a visceral reaction. ‘I was hoping we’d have fun tonight,’ singer Caleb Followill said to a rousing cry. ‘I didn’t think we’d have this much.’ 

Kings of Leon | Photo by: Dave Hogan

Bookending the main set with Seen, there was little time between the band leaving the stage and returning for what was to be a mixed encore, in terms of the choice of songs. Rainbow Ball was received warmly enough, as was Cold Desert, the closing track from Only By The Night. There was only one way that the set could end, however, and everybody knew it was coming. The group kept us in anticipation a little longer, Caleb taking the time to thank everyone, as well as their families for being there. ‘We’re so grateful that you’re here rather than at Glastonbury,’ he said as the guitar volume rolled up. ‘We’ve got our own little Glastonbury right here.’ Use Somebody became the final track of the night, concluding what was a flawless performance from the band, and an excellent visual show, despite a few minor errors with the screens here and there. Regardless of that, the execution was so on point that it’s doubtful anyone took much notice. The songs were more than enough, Kings of Leon showing why they had been invited back for round two at Hyde Park. 

Set List:
Ballerina Radio
On Call
The Bucket
Taper Jean Girl
Manhatten
Revelry
Nothing to Do
My Party
Sex on Fire
Don’t Stop the Bleeding
Comeback Story
Pyro
Mustang
Molly’s Chambers
Milk
Fans
Back Down South
Nowhere to Run
King of the Rodeo
Wait for Me
Split Screen
The Bandit
Find Me
Closer
Seen

Encore:
Rainbow Ball
Waste a Moment
Cold Desert
Use Somebody

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