Kings Of Leon – Spark Arena: October 23, 2022

Kings of Leon fill out the Spark Arena stadium on a Sunday night with dads, lads and old fans sporting merch, hands full of beer and a brain full of Kings of Leon lyrics ready to sing along at the drop of a hat. 

Australian indie rock band The Temper Trap were playing support this evening. Having started in 2005, these guys have been around almost as long as Kings of Leon. 

The Temper Trap

Playing to a half-full and quickly expanding stadium, The Temper Trap thoroughly warmed up the stage for Kings of Leon’s set. High vocals soar over an ominous track, laid down by the four piece noise-rock band.

The players must be half deaf because they are playing in front of a number of monstrously oversized amps. 

Throughout the set, frontman Dougy Mandagi takes off his guitar and pulls apart one of the drum kits on stage, salvaging a floor drum and cymbals to join Toby Dundas on drums as a supportive percussionist.

After playing the absolute iconic intro to their next song, The Temper Trap launch into their chart topping and now TikTok famous Sweet Disposition. The arena lights up with phone screens as the younger half of Kings of Leon’s audience captures the magical moment.

It is so interesting how a song that has been around since 2009, and that was such a hit then, has been revived through new age social media as people rediscover it in new ways.

An army of stage technicians pack down Temper Trap’s gear as the punters move to the bar.

There’s definitely two generations here, the dads that are proud to say they were the first to discover Kings of Leon and the kids who were spoon-fed their songs by said dads.

Kings Of Leon

It’s dark and smokey when Kings of Leon walk on stage. White strobes light up as the drummer rolls a heavy snare fill.

They open with the title track of their new album When You See Yourself

They are playing in front of four three metre tall LED screens showing live footage that is being captured by two massive cameras at the back. Two even bigger screens on either side of the stage morph the live footage with other visual effects and bits and pieces from some of their music videos.

When Matthew Followill, the lead guitarist finally has his first solo his tone shines through. The lead guitar tones throughout the set are some of the most notable moments of their performance. 

Massive confetti speckles float around in slow motion on the screen behind the band during Remedy 

Guitar nerds would be geeking out over the expensive top-of-the-line gear that’s on stage. Each of the three guitarists runs stereo top of the line amps. From here, it looks like two vox ac30s, two ac15s, and two black star amps. Gear most people only dream of. 

A big kick drum sends the audience clapping and rolls the band into Waste a Moment. Everyone sings delightfully along to the “oooohs” in the chorus.

Radioactive is introduced by frontman Caleb Followill. The lights are doing some heavy lifting on this track and follow the crazy drum fills and full on guitar riffs.

The stadium goes black and one blue eye appears on the big screen for Find Me

They have lots of well known hits but this is their best live song so far. Finally, the words are audible above the rest of the band and we can clearly hear and sing along to “How did you find me? What are you looking for?” in the chorus.

It is impossible not to notice how underwhelmed the band seems about being on stage. They do play their fair share of stadium shows these days but the enthusiasm is lacking and it is hard to feel connected as an audience member without this energy give and take.

Caleb admits they’re running on four hours of sleep. So maybe this is why the energy is low. Although, it doesn’t seem like most of the audience notices or really cares. They’re just here to see their longtime idols in real life. And fair enough, they haven’t been back in NZ in over 13 years.

It is cool to see the whole band singing backing vocals from time to time, especially the drummer. That’s some serious multitasking. Sadly, it’s not as easy to hear them as it is to see them on the big screens.

The songs themselves are a solid backbone of sound from the guitars. It is a shame that the vocals aren’t as forward and centre in the mix as they could be. Luckily the arena is packed with fans that are proud to sing along, and would most likely happily sing for them if need be.

Finally the band plays Use Somebody, the moment everyone has been waiting for. People stand, cheering, screaming, singing from the top of their lungs.

The set was mostly made up of Kings of Leon classics with a few tunes from their new album When You See Yourself. It would have been awesome if the band looked like they were as stoked to be there as the other few thousand people, but regardless, the diehard fans made the most of the long weekend with “no f***ing excuses” as Caleb had encouraged earlier. 

Reviewed by Koen Aldershof and Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk

Kings Of Leon:

The Temper Trap: