A Day with Kings of Leon at The National Bowl Milton Keynes

On Sunday 22nd June I headed over to the National Bowl in Milton Keynes for an afternoon of music with several great bands.

It was an all day event with the running order for the day comprising of:

  • Last Internationale
  • Twin Atlantic
  • Haim
  • Kings of Leon

The National Bowl

The National Bowl is a 65,000 capacity music/entertainment venue which has been around for years since Milton Keynes grew up from nothing back in the 1970s. It’s a giant horseshoe shaped venue with steep banking the whole way around, modelled on the Hollywood Bowl in the US.

National Bowl Milton Keynes
65,000 Capacity National Bowl in Milton Keynes

As outdoor music venues go it’s fantastic. You get a great view from every angle and the sound reverberates well around the banking – I’ve not met many people in Milton Keynes who dislike this place.

Panoramic Shot of the National Bowl Milton Keynes
Panoramic Shot of the National Bowl Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes really are trying hard to establish the City on the map with some seriously big headline acts playing at the Bowl in recent years including Foo Fighters, Green Day and Eminem. In fact on Friday night just gone the venue was home to Pearl Jam and just 2 nights later home to a big dance event called Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) with the like of Avicii, Nicky Romero, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki and Steve Angello taking to the stage.

Haim

I’d not seen either of the opening 2 bands before and to be honest I’m not really into their music so didn’t bother to watch their performances. Haim however were a band I did watch once we’d found a seating area on the hill as it was completely packed.

The band played all the expected big radio hits, namely The Wire and Don’t Save Me, and played them well with everyone seeming to enjoy the music, singing and dancing along.

Haim weren’t the most entertaining live band I’d ever seen however, not even close, doing very little to connect with the audience beyond the front barrier. There was a bit of banter with the front row but that atmosphere really struggled to carry towards the back of the venue.

Overall Haim were a good enough live band but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to see them again anything soon.

Kings of Leon

With the day drawing to a close and plenty of typically overpriced fast food, beer and cider having been consumed, Kings of Leon took to the stage right on time at 20:30 sharp.

Kings of Leon open their set
Kings of Leon open their set

I’d seen Kings of Leon before at their headline Reading Festival slot back in 2009 which was certainly wasn’t front man Caleb’s finest hour. At the 2009 gig he criticised the crowd repeatedly which was clearly the result of a long year touring the Only by the Night hit album. That said I really enjoyed the gig and the music so was really looking forward to them playing in MK.

Kings took the stage opening what ended up being a 2 hour set with the fantastic Supersoaker. This really set the place off in a great mood, with the sun shining and everyone at the venue in high spirits. Caleb was on great form throughout, talking to the crowd and really making an effort to engage with the audience. He certainly looked like he was enjoying the night.

Kings of Leon perform Use Somebody
Kings of Leon perform Use Somebody

Throughout the 2 hours Kings played all of the big hits including Closer and Use Somebody, finally ending their encore with a rather predictable performance of Sex on Fire (full setlist here).

Not only was the the National Bowl a great outdoor rock venue, the live music was fantastic with each band on top form. Kings of Leon really did come out on top though with the entire venue singing and dancing along to every tune.

Kings of Leon MK National Bowl
Calum asks the audience to pull out their phones and lighters as the sun goes down

Brilliant night all round, can’t wait to head to their next gig!

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