Eight months and 72 shows into their album-titled Mechanical Bull Tour, the Grammy-winning alternative rock band Kings of Leon managed to muster enough energy for one last exceptional performance at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Oct. 5.
Without addressing the crowd, Kings of Leon opened with their hit single “Supersoaker”before immediately transitioning into the driving percussion of “Taper Jean Girl.”The band still did not break before playing “Fans,”carrying the momentum of the first two songs all the way into Matthew Followill’s solo, when the lead guitarist caused an explosion of approval by playing the solo using only his mouth.
Lead vocalist Caleb Followill then explained the abundance of on-stage cameras, saying that the concert will be made into a movie, which sent an aura of Hollywood mystique over the crowd. Caleb’s made-for-TV moment came after “Pyro,”when he exclaimed, “We’re supposed to be giving it our all and this is our last show so I’m gonna have a fucking drink.”
Caleb only addressed the crowd when it was absolutely necessary, and each concise address was followed by an immediate revival of crowd interest. His utilitarian posturing and mysterious on-stage persona are the realization of his lonesome cowboy voice.
Caleb carried the renewed interest into “Temple”as thousands of voices sang along, but the crowd’s reaction to “Radioactive”was truly priceless: the first few notes emanated from the guitar sent a silence over the crowd, and as Nathan Followill began the intricate drum pattern one could feel something spiritual brewing.
As Caleb sang the first lines, “When the roll is called up yonder, I hope you see me there,” the gospel in his voice swept through every open soul in attendance.
Horses galloped in slow motion across the backdrop in harmony with the drums consistently thumping on “Beautiful War.” As Caleb began strumming the exposition of “Cold Desert,” the backdrop changed to stars dotting the night sky. He called for the crowd to hold up their flashlights and lighters and the amphitheater felt as though it was rising into the night sky and as the audience swayed back and forth — each movement taking us higher.
Fresh off the starship ride, KoL turned up the volume on “Use Somebody,”their Grammy-winning song that spent 2008 near the top of every applicable chart. Caleb invited the audience to sing a line for him as thousands of voices chimed in, “You know that I could use somebody.”
Before the tour, fans told KoL over social media that they craved their old sound from the early 2000s, so in July they announced their “song for the city” plan. They played a different song off of their first few albums in each city.
Core fans got what they craved in KoL’s song for Irvine: “Trani,”off of 2003’s “Youth and Young Manhood.”
Caleb’s conversational lyrics bring to mind Mick Jagger’s “Far Away Eyes,” but much of the audience spent this song replaying the videos they took of “Use Somebody.”
After “Trani”the group said their farewell and exited stage left, but the relentless applause of thousands brought them back for an encore featuring “Crawl,” “Black Thumbnail”and their other Grammy-winning hit: “Sex on Fire.”
Red streams of light moved slow and seductively around the stage and into the audience but just as each section of the song grew harder, an explosion of colors would emerge.
The concert reached climax during the final section of “Sex on Fire,” when lead guitarist Matthew Followill unleashed an amped-up version of the song’s guitar riff as sparks showered the stage and firecrackers brought an end to the show.