Kings of Leon - Lancashire County Cricket Ground, Manchester

There has been a lot of dirt dished: the term "sell outs" has been used quite frequently when describing Kings of Leon's two latest, and biggest selling albums, 2008's Only By The Night and 2010's Come Around Sundown. The perceived lack of rawness (and as a result the coolness) of their three predecessors rankled many. Nothing pisses people off more then some indie band going off and selling millions of records. Yet that's what Kings of Leon did, God damn them, and we just won't forgive them for it. At the Old Trafford cricket ground, in front of fifty (yes that's right 5-0) thousand people KoL showed the crowd what they really excel in, and that's performing live. Love 'em or hate 'em you got to hand it to them. They know how to party.

This was a great evening for live music. Nashville natives Mona opened the proceedings with an excellent set, featuring tracks from their impressive self-titled debut. Songs like 'Trouble on the Way' and 'Teenager' worked brilliantly live, setting the stage for some old-fashioned entertainment.

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Next up were White Lies who played a perfect mix of old favourites like 'Farewell To The Fairground' 'To Lose My Life', and 'Death' with selections from their new album Ritual including 'Strangers' and 'Bigger Than Us'. Impressing on the larger stage, Harry McVeigh's vocals seemed more assured and powerful than ever before.

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Then it was time for the boys from Tennessee to work their magic. "We don't have many dates left here in England," says handsome Caleb in his lazy drawl, "so we're just gonna cut loose if that's alright with you." And the band proceeded to deliver a blistering and generous set encompassing tracks from all their albums, even ones the dreadful 'Sex On Fire' bandwagon-jumping fans have probably never heard before. Yeah, dontcha just hate 'em.

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Starting of with 'Four Kicks' from 2004's Aha Shake Heartbeat, the band delivered a set guaranteed to please both newbies and long-time fans. Lesser know album tracks 'Taper Jean Girl' and 'My Party' went down as well as crowd favourites 'The Bucket' and 'Molly's Chambers', the band's seamless synergy powering the music along.

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The setting played a large part in the show's magic. The promised rain showers stayed away much to the delight of the drunken revelers. The band launched into 'Back Down South' from the new album, the setting sun tinging the clouds pale pink adding to the song's charm, the beautiful harmonies casting a spell upon the audience as photos of the band's hometown flashed across the giant screens. Other highlights included a sterling performance of latest single 'Pyro' and a chilling rendition of 'Closer' from Only By the Night; the stark arrangement and Jared's ghostly bass line shadowing Caleb's magnificent voice. Even the cheesy fun of 'Sex On Fire' sounded epic, getting all 50,000 punters, men and women, screaming the chorus along with the band.

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The guys returned with a four-song strong encore which included the excellent 'Knocked Up' from Because of the Times and firm fan fave 'Use Somebody'. The show ended literally with a bang as a magnificent fireworks display filled the air to the closing strains of 'Black Thumbnail'. Caleb told the crowd earlier "If it weren't for you guys we'd still be playing houses and shit. But you made us the Kings of Leon." And they repaid that debt with an unforgettable show.

Setlist:For Kicks, Taper Jean Girl,The Bucket, Radioactive, My Party, The Immortals, Fans, Back Down South, McFearless, Crawl, No Money, Charmer, Mary, Notion, Closer, Pyro, California Waiting, Molly's Chambers, On Call, Sex On Fire
Encore: Knocked Up, Manhattan, Use Somebody, Black Thumbnail

All photos are copyright Mike Gray and may not be used without express permission, including blogs, fan sites and Tumblr accounts

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