Reading and Leeds: Remembering when Kings of Leon headlined in 2009

Jack Shepherd

The year was 2009: Gordon Brown was somehow Prime Minister, Swine Flu griped the nation, and DJs were blasting out Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire” every other hour.

Whilst Because of the Times had been heralded as another excellent album from the extraordinary band, Only By The Night made Kings of Leon household names. As a result, Reading and Leeds booked the Nashville four-piece to headline, hoping the group would bring out their biggest hits.

Starting with “Be Somebody” from their chart-topping fourth album, the band launched into a tirade of older hits — “My Party”, “Molly’s Chambers” and “Fans” — to some hesitancy from the crowd. While almost every Kings of Leon fan adores those songs, the general crowd didn't know them.

Midway through, the band ploughed through “Sex on Fire”, lighting up the crowd and bringing a huge singalong. Unfortunately, Caleb Followill clocked that the majority of people were only there for that song and “Use Somebody”. Come the closing track — a race through “Black Thumbnail” — they were throwing guitars at amplifiers and into the crowd, frustrated by the cold reception.

Everyone — including a young me — was left disappointed and following the show drummer Nathan Followill Tweeted: “Reading? What the f**k? Zero love for the kings. I know it was cold but holy sh*t, y’all were frozen. I can only hope Leeds is in better form.”

A year later, Caleb apologised for the performance, admitting his own big-headedness, and looking back on the period as his own “Kurt Cobain moment”. And now, almost a decade later, Kings of Leon are returning to Reading as headliners, along with Kendrick Lamar, Fall Out Boy, and Panick at the Disco. Fingers crossed they can make up for last time.

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