Kings Of Leon @ The Electric Ballroom, Camden, London, 10th July 2003
KINGS OF LEON – CAMDEN ELECTRIC BALLROOM, 10/07/03

The Followill clan arrive onstage to rampant cries of ‘Leon! Leon!’. Yes, they’re 2003’s big thing. Every music journalist's wet dream. This year’s band to save rock ‘n’ roll. And their name doesn’t even begin with ‘The’. This is promising stuff. With celebrities such as Kate Moss and Noel Gallagher in attendance at Camden’s 1000 capacity Electric Ballroom, this is no stage to falter. If the Kings of Leon pull it off tonight, the enormous hype surrounding them would be somewhat justified.

Early single ‘Molly’s Chambers’ turns out to be a storming set opener which further amplifies the jubilant cries of crowd members. ‘We’re The Kings Of Leon’, mentions Caleb Followill as soon as he and the crowd are able to catch their breath after a few more tasters from the debut album ‘Youth And Young Manhood’. As if the crowd are unaware of this, this just so happens to be one of the most significant gigs of the summer. The night Kings Of Leon performed in London on their first headline tour of these shores. It will probably be an occasion looked back on in years to come, with those in attendance reeling off their smug ‘I was there’ lines. That’s if the Kings don’t self-destruct under the weight of hype. Judging by tonight’s tight performance though, such an eventuality should be ruled out.

‘Holy Roller Novocaine’ is a mid set highlight, and the brilliant ‘Red Morning Light’ gets the crowd quite literally jumping up and down with joy. The latter, which must be in the running for single of the year, is dispatched with great vigour and ferocity. It's simply a display of the enormous confidence these men are wielding at the moment. Everything's going right for them and it seems they have it all – a celebrity fan backing, psychedelic beards, a debut album critics are salivating over and a handful of killer tunes. Surely nothing can stop them. However, if one were to nit-pick and yank the wheels off their fast moving bandwagon, the fact that some of the album tracks fail to inspire would be highlighted. ‘Wasted Time’ does exactly what is says on the tin and ‘Spiral Staircase’ descends into some sort of over laboured drawl that is not especially easy on the ear. No matter, they’ve no doubt got a lot of albums ahead of them and there’s no particular reason why bands should achieve perfection on their first outing. And it’s not to say that they don’t make up for it on the night – the catchy, sing-along friendly ‘California Waiting’ is received with rapturous approval and they make the crowd feel even more privileged than they already are (Demand for tickets exceeded supply by 6 times) by declaring that they ‘don’t normally do encores’ after returning to the stage after their set. The close proceedings with a great version of 'Trani', a song that would not sound out of place on a 70's country rock compilation. On tonight’s evidence at least, they’ve done enough to gain the accolade of this year’s Strokes – let’s just hope it’s not a poisoned chalice.

Jeremy Lloyd