Air Canada Centre, Toronto - October 11, 2011

JANE STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:37 PM ET

TORONTO - The big question on everyone’s minds on Tuesday night at the Kings Of Leon show at the Air Canada Centre show is how would lead singer-guitarist Caleb Followill look and sound?

It was back in late July that the frontman walked off stage in the middle of a show in Dallas, supposedly due to the heat and voice problems, and never returned.

The band - filled out by Followill’s brothers Nathan on drums and Jared on bass and their cousin Matthew on lead guitar - decided to take a break, cancelling the rest of their U.S. tour to deal with Caleb’s “health issues,” only starting back up again with a Sept. 28 show in Vancouver.

As Jared tweeted at the time, “There are internal sicknesses and problems that have needed to be addressed ... I can’t lie,” before adding, “There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade.”

But the rest appears to have at least done Caleb’s voice some good even if he looked a little shaggy with facial hair and appeared, along with the rest of the group, pretty tentative for most of the night.

The southern-fried garage rockers kicked off their hour-and-40-minute performance with Radioactive from their 2010 album Come Around Sundown but it was as if a lot of the joy had left the group.

The Nashville-based foursome seemed to keep their energy contained within themselves instead of sharing it with each other or the audience.

The first flub of the night came about six songs in when they started, then stopped, then restarted the normally anthemic Fans for reasons that weren’t clear.

The crowd of just under 12,000 was forgiving, however, gamely singing along on the next new song, Back Down South, as the two video screens on either side of the stripped down stage showed waving fields of wheat and back roads, before joining in on the old favourite Milk which was followed by another slow-tempoed number Arizona.

Slowly, the band started to find their footing with Slow Night, So Long, Molly’s Chambers and Closer as the large three-paneled video screens behind them finally came to life but they never really set the place on fire until the top of the first hour with On Call and Knocked Up, which both prompted crowd clap and singalongs.

Then it was time for the mother of them all - Sex On Fire - which closed the set before a five minute break leading into the lively encore of The Bucket, the anthemic Use Somebody and Black Thumbnail which ended the evening punctuated by fireworks and firebursts.

Opening were Saskatoon’s very own The Sheepdogs, whose claim to fame was a recent contest win to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, becoming the first unsigned band to do so.

Their sludgey ‘70s era southern psych-rock sound was a real throwback, right down to the white bell bottoms and red bandana worn by lead guitarist-gymnast Leot Hanson - he was very bendy on stage - and the long hair sported by all four men including lead singer Ewan Currie and bassist Ryan Gullen who also had beards.

Can you say Hair Club for Men?

But frankly, they needed more cowbell during their performance which was decent enough but hardly spectacular even thought their hit, I Don’t Know, off 2011’s Learn & Burn, got some major applause from the crowd as it came towards the end of their 45-minute set.


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