Kings of Leon rode their Mechanical Bull tour into the home of the Chicago Bulls, the United Center, this weekend. It's hard to believe it's been nearly five years since KOL headlined Lollapalooza on the strength of 2008's Only By The Night. Aside from a special set at House of Blues last October, they haven't played a show in the city since. 2011's Come Around Sundown Chicago date was included in those cancelled after the band's well documented issues. See: Health issues. Knife fights. On stage melt downs. Or just watch the excellent rockumentary Talihina Sky.
So despite their convincing return, a likable album, and a few successful festival stops, after just a month on the road there's still an undeniable undercurrent of questions surrounding the future of the Nashville rockers.
After a blistering opening set from electric-guitar-God-in-waiting Gary Clark, Jr., Caleb, Nathan, Jared and Matthew took the stage obscured by a giant white sheet, opening with the thumping "Charmer" before dropping the sheet and diving into newer tracks "Rock City," "Temple," and "Family Tree," peppering in tunes from earlier releases in between.
This arena show did differ from the festival set we took in at Hangout in Alabama last May. This evening's set relying heavily on Mechanical Bull, and noticeably absent were usual set highlights "California Waiting" and the anthemic "Fans." Though Caleb did admit early on as the last show of this leg of the tour that his voice was hoarse and would probably get hoarser, it was never noticeable and for the majority of the set the group sounded as sharp as the did in 2009.
After a crowd-pleasing set that included favorites "Molly's Chambers," "The Bucket," and "Four Kicks," they returned to the stage for a bouncing, laser-fueled encore featuring "Crawl," "Black Thumbnail," and "Sex on Fire" that made clear their rocky past is in the rear-view mirror. After a week off, Kings of Leon will continue on to the second leg of the tour with Local Natives opening dates along the West Coast, Canada and back down south.
Check out photos from the show on our Facebook page here!