Kings of Leon in Dublin: ‘We are one quarter Irish’

The Nashville band reveal their Irish side at first of three shows at the 3Arena


Venue: 3Arena

Date Reviewed: June 29th, 2017



In the first of three almost sold out shows in Dublin’s 3Arena, Kings of Leon make a strong start in the latest instalment of their long-running love affair with Ireland or as the man in front of me confirms with his fist poignantly punching the air: “Serious tunes. Nothing but hits.”

The arena fills up with the slow thudding of a heartbeat and as a red, velvet curtain lifts, Caleb, Jared, Matthew and Nathan Followill emerge. Opening with Over from 2016’s Walls, The Bucket, Mary and Eyes on You, giving something definite for fans who were there from the very beginning and something for those who wavered in and around 2007, when the lads tidied up their hair and went to that place that no long-term fan ever likes: the top 30.

Before rolling into Manhattan and King of the Rodeo, Caleb gives a whisper of a smile and in his southern drawl, announces “We are Kings of Leon” to an already ecstatic crowd. Since the release of their debut album Youth & Manhood in 2003, the Nashville group have been a staple part of indie play lists in seedy bars across Ireland, dividing fans further with every new album.

But by the time they play Fans from 2007’s Because of the Times and Notion from 2008’s Only by the Night, whatever form of adulthood the fans have accidentally wandered into is put on hold as they relive cider-fuelled college nights out with their best mates.

While the woah-ohs to Use Somebody could generate enough electricity for Co Longford, there’s an absent, listless stare from frontman Caleb, as if he is just remembering that he forgot to set his Sky Box to record Love Island. The curtain cuts Caleb off from the rest of the band to play The Runner – perhaps they’re having a cup of tea and a Moro – but halfway through Walls, the curtain rises to reveal an extended stage with an extra drummer and guitarist. The extra manpower raises the bar for the second half of the night, leading with the anthemic On Call, swiftly followed by Radioactive.

“Since we’ve been gone,” Caleb mumbles into the microphone, addressing the last time they played in Ireland, “we’ve discovered that we are one quarter Irish.” Considering that Kings of Leon are three brothers and one cousin, to realise that one of their grandparents – presumably – is Irish so late in the game is astonishing but it inspires the loudest Olé Olé Olé since 1994. “Tonight, we’re home.”

The show coasts as The Caleb Show. He doesn’t give much in terms of charisma, but subtle gestures, like clutching on to the silver crucifix around his neck as he sings “Won’t you give me something I need” from No Money or purring Molly’s Chamber with convincing seduction, indicates that this probably means more to him than he’s letting on.

He says that they’ll be around the next few days so if we don’t hear our favourite song tonight, maybe we will on Sunday or Tuesday, teasing for a second that all of this wasn’t building up to Sex on Fire.

The second last song of the night, paired with Waste A Moment for the big finale, is disappointing but despite any reservations, Kings of Leon have managed to wriggle bombastic earworms into our brains with minimal effort.

Nothing but hits, then, and whether you dropped off in 2008, 2013 or have stood with them through it all, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. So just give in and let these Kings guide you along.

Kings of Leon play Dublin’s 3Arena on July 4