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Sat 12 Jan 2008, 7:00pm

Where: Spark Arena, 42 Mahuhu Cres, CBD, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages Licensed

Ticket Information:

  • LOWER BOWL: $97.50
  • Additional fees may apply

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"I think people tend to expect a certain sound from us," says Kings of Leon's drummer Nathan Followill, "but on this record, we tried to throw them for a loop."

Indeed, it's not business as usual on the Nashville-based quartet's ambitious, eclectic new album Because Of The Times. Where Kings of Leon's last release, 2005's Aha Shake Heartbreak, was "a fuzz-encrusted rocket of controlled violence," as Rolling Stone put it, packed with emphatic two-minute bursts of raunchy guitars, brawny drums, and growled vocals, Because Of The Times finds the Followills (brothers Nathan, Caleb, and Jared, and their first cousin Matthew) opening up, relaxing the rules, and reveling in the joys of their newfound musical freedom.

"We took the limitations off of ourselves," says frontman/rhythm guitarist Caleb. "We went into the studio with an open mind, thinking let's do whatever it takes to get these songs to the next level. Because we really have a lot of music inside of us and a lot of different places we can go."

It would have been easy for Kings of Leon to make Aha Shake Part II and call it a day. That album (along with its predecessor, 2003's Youth and Young Manhood) transformed these sons of a Pentecostal minister, who grew up traveling with the preacher around the rural Deep South, into rising stars in the U.S. and major rock stars in the UK. In 2005, Harp magazine called Kings of Leon "the freshest breeze to blow through the modern music scene since punk rock turned everything upside down and inside out in the late '70s."

But instead of resting on their rep, the guys chose to challenge themselves. "We weren't scared to try anything," Nathan says. "I think that's the difference between this album and the last. We weren't timid at all. Every song showed us something we had inside of ourselves that we didn't know existed, which enabled us to be even bolder on the next song."

To that end, Because Of The Times (the title refers to an annual preachers' conference the boys attended growing up) contains Kings of Leon's first-ever album track that clocks in at longer than five minutes ("Knocked Up"), the first song with vocal effects ("On Call"), and the first one you could verifiably call an arena-rock anthem ("Black Thumbnail"). Then there's the breakneck "McFearless," the chiming "Ragoo," the scuzzy "Charmer," and the waltzing "The Runner" - a song so pretty, it's damn near a lullaby. "I can sing pretty if I want to sing pretty," says Caleb, whose slurry Southern cadences were once a hallmark of the band's sound.

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