Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kings Of Leon- Live in Johannesburg

Sigh, the life of a fangirl: another Friday, another cross-country flight to see a band. This time it was Tennessee’s Kings Of Leon that Lauren and I were off to Johannesburg to see. Our flight was due to leave just after 2pm, but the issues began at 10am, when we were informed via sms that our flight had been delayed. This in itself was not a huge problem in my life, the huge problem came in the form of the five or so highly inefficient people I had to deal with to make sure that the flight really was delayed, as well as the four phone numbers which were unanswered. Anyway, the flight really had been delayed, and we eventually departed around 3.45pm. The flight itself was pleasant enough until about half an hour before landing, when we experienced a fair amount of not-so-fun turbulence, now I’m not scared of flying or anything, but I’ve seen Lost…I know how turbulence can end! Needless to say we were more than happy to touch down onto some solid ground.

Saturday morning dawned, and once again we were off to the shops, this time to experience Sandton City, which is absolutely huge and beautifully decorated! Oh I could get lost in some of those shops for hours upon hours, but I’m sure I’m losing my train of thought…. Ahhh, shoes….

As we had seated tickets, we had no need to queue at the stadium a zillion hours before the gates opened, and so we caught the 4pm park ‘n’ ride from Gold Reef City and arrived at the stadium just after the gates opened. This was a completely new experience for me; the last time I’d had seated concert tickets, I’d been 14, but we had still queued for two hours before the gates opened! This is almost refreshing, no need to run or panic about getting a barrier spot, we simply made out way calmly to our seats, then killed some time wandering around looking for food and merchandise. The seats around us began to fill up very slowly, but I had a great view of the general standing area, and the people here fascinated me. They seemed to be acting as though they were at some kind of social event as opposed to a concert. They milled around, greeted friends, left the standing area and came back numerous times…there was no fighting for barrier positions, and to be honest, they didn’t seem too excited, but I’ll get back to that.

Three support bands preceded Kings Of Leon, and might I say that the main support band, Die Heuwels Fantasties, impressed me. I’d seen them almost a year ago, but they had improved a million fold, and even though they are an Afrikaans band, and I only caught snatches of their lyrics, they were very entertaining.

And then…the lights go down, the screens go on, and the Followill boys troop onto the stage to the intro of ‘Radioactive’. My seat is quickly forgotten, and I jump up and down and scream to my heart’s content. Kings Of Leon give an absolutely flawless performance, Caleb’s voice is exactly the same as it sounds on the CD; clearly very little in the way of studio adjustments goes on here. Caleb is so into his performance, it is amazing. One can see the emotion on his face as he utters those perfect vocals, song after song. And when he talks in that southern accent, my heart just melts. The other band members amaze me as well; Matt never stops smiling, Jared is clearly having the time of his life, and Nathan…Nathan is just the very definition of the word ‘cool’. Banging away at his drums with tattooed arms, his long, dark hair blowing in the evening wind, this man is a true rockstar (am I making it blatantly obvious who my favourite is yet?).

The setlist is almost perfect – unfortunately the boys don’t seem to hear me screaming “Chaaaaaaaaaarmerrrrrrrrrrr” though, sigh- and the stage setup is amazing. The lights never stop going crazy, and the screens allow even the furthest people to get a perfect view of the Followill boys’ pretty faces. I do not sit down at all during the 22-song setlist, and I literally spend most of the time jumping up and down, squealing, and taking very blurry photos. I go positively crazy when I hear the first few beats of ‘Fans’! “Eeeeeeeee! Is it ‘Fans’ ? Omg omg omg ‘Fans’ I’m gonna die, eeeeeeeeee”. Then I manage to sing along to the first line of ‘Revelry’ without realizing what song it was, cue a belated freak out session…I do love ‘Revelry’ indeed. By the time ‘Knocked Up’ comes around, I’ve screamed my throat almost to breaking point, and I’m unable to do the ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh’s, but I continue jumping, nonetheless. I feel like I am on the receiving end of some quite serious judgment from the people behind me, as I know almost every word to every single song. I’m the girl who is screaming and jumping and singing to even the less well-known songs such as ‘The Bucket’ and ‘On Call’. Most of the people seated in my block only seem to know the chorus of ‘My Party’, and let’s face it, those lyrics aren’t that difficult. I feel that I am seated with people who just came for a night out, and because they wanted to sing along to that song they’d heard on the radio, what was it called again? Oh yes…‘Sex On Fire’. At least this song gets a great reaction, though Jon Savage’s idea of a surprise flashmob fails miserably. When this song ends, the stage lights go down, and the boys are gone, but I’m not moving a muscle. Surely no one would be thick enough to think that they’d leave without playing ‘Use Somebody’. Well, maybe not… half of the general admissions people are leaving already, flowing out of the area in streams, leaving the back completely empty. But I’m right, and the band returns for an encore of four songs including, of course, ‘Use Somebody’. It seems almost poetic that the rain begins just as the band start to play the third-last song, ‘Manhattan’, it’s almost as if the weather had decided to be nice and allow the concert to proceed, instead of ruining it with the previously predicted thunderstorm. The last song is ‘Black Thumbnail, and it’s quite bad that I know that after this song, the show is really over, that’s how well I’d creeped previous setlists. The show ends with a display of, well, pyro that makes Coldplay’s firework display look like a cute first attempt.

Before I know it, we’re on the park ‘n’ ride bus, then back at our car. The traffic plan, like the rest of the organization is absolutely perfect tonight. Everything from the sound, to the food, to the merchandise stalls cannot be criticized, and Big Concerts deserves a huge congratulations on this.  The thing that saddens me is the lack of vibe on the way back. Instead of bursting out into ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh’s or signing ‘Sex On Fire’, the crowd on the bus back is discussing everything but the concert: the U2 traffic plan, and the finances of the McDonalds drive-thru are hot topics tonight.

Anyway, none of that matters, does it? All that matters is that Kings Of Leon put on an excellent show, and for two hours, I had the absolute time of my life singing along to everything from the radio-friendly ‘Sex On Fire’, to the beautiful ‘Back Down South’ and the explosive ‘Molly’s Chambers’. Well done, KOL, you’re welcome back in our creepy, thunderstorm-filled country any time. 

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