Kings of Leon swapped vast indoor arenas and festival headline slots for the more intimate confines of London’s Rivoli Ballroom when the Tennessee rock band played an exclusive gig for national Top 40 station BBC Radio 1 last night (Oct.27).
Appearing before an audience of approximately 400 competition winners and invited media, the chart topping four-piece played a well-received 13-song set, which saw the band perform material from its latest studio set “Come Around Sundown” for the first time.
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The band had previously premiered several songs from “Sundown” at its summer 2010 London Hyde Park shows, but last night’s gig marked the first time that many songs from the record had been performed live.
Earlier this week “Come Around Sundown” (RCA) debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. In the U.K. “Sundown” topped the album charts, recording the biggest first-week sales of any artist album this year (183,000 copies) and scoring the biggest first-week digital sales in U.K. chart history (49,000).
“We don’t often get a chance to play in places like this, so we’re having a good time,” singer Caleb Followill told the audience midway through the band’s 60-minute set, which opened with an impassioned run through recent single “Radioactive.”
The band also played “Sundown” tracks “Mary,” “The End,” a slow-grinding “Pyro,” “Pickup Truck,” “The Immortals” and album highlight “Back Down South,” which provoked the first of several enthusiastic singalongs among the 400-strong crowd.
“We’re playing some songs that we haven’t played before and some that we haven’t played in a long time, so you better love us,” Followill told the audience, adding, rather unconvincingly, that the band would be hanging around afterwards “to get fucked up.”
Predictably, the biggest reception of the night was granted to hit singles “Sex On Fire” and a roof-raising “Use Somebody.” While “Taper Jean Girl,” taken from sophomore set “Aha Shake Heartbreak” and “Crawl” and “Closer,” lifted from the band’s fourth album “Only By The Night,” also received a strong response.
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The group wrapped its set with a blistering run through the raw garage blues of “Black Thumbnail,” from 2007’s “Because of the Times.”
“You have been wonderful, we really appreciate you coming out and God bless you all,” said Followill, adding, just in case anybody was in doubt, “We’re Kings Of Leon.”
The London Rivoli Ballroom gig will be broadcast tonight (Oct.28) at 8pm GMT on BBC Radio One as part of the station’s Kings of Leon Night.
The band is set to play three U.S. shows next month, including Boston’s TD Garden venue, Nov. 14, New York’s Madison Square Garden, Nov.16 and the Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ, Nov. 18. European dates follow culminating in a show at London’s 17,000-capacity O2 Arena, Dec. 21.