Concert preview: Kings of Leon reclaim the throne with Mechanical Bull

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From the February 13, 2014 edition

Some blowback was inevitable after the Nashville rockers exploded to stadium-headlining status in 2008 with Only by the Night. After all, anyone with the gall to unironically title a song “Sex on Fire” probably deserves to get knocked down a peg or two, amiright?

For the Kings, who first emerged in the early aughts with a shaggy dog sound and a backstory to match (the four Followill brothers grew up the sons of a Pentecostal preacher), this stumble arrived in the form of its 2010 album Come Around Sundown, a bloated, half-formed effort that found the musicians uncomfortably trying on U2’s clothing. The same year the band briefly turned late-night punchline when it cut a St. Louis concert short after an infestation of pigeons in the rafters bombarded the crew with droppings, which seemed like an apt metaphor for … something.

Rather than retreating, the Kings made a successful bid to reclaim the throne with last year’s Mechanical Bull, a return-to-form of sorts that restores some of the crew’s early outsider charm to its still-arena-friendly sound. “It’s all better now,” Caleb Followill sings on the deceptively simple, heart-rending ballad “Wait for Me,” and at times here it’s hard to disagree.

Photo courtesy of Kings of Leon