Kings of Leon, Carling Apollo, Manchester

Angelic good looks and old fashioned rock'n'roll find a willing audience
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If ever there was a group that should appear on The Simpsons , it's Kings of Leon. They hardly require caricaturing. What's more, if the front man, Caleb Followill, was unavailable for his voice-track, whoever voices the King of the Hill character Boonhauer could easily double for him.

If ever there was a group that should appear on The Simpsons , it's Kings of Leon. They hardly require caricaturing. What's more, if the front man, Caleb Followill, was unavailable for his voice-track, whoever voices the King of the Hill character Boonhauer could easily double for him.

As one critic has already pointed out, Followill and Hank Hill's Hillbilly neighbour annunciate like a man undergoing dentistry.

Still, one fact that might stymie my Simpsons flight of fancy is that the band are more popular here than they are in the US, where they are from. This year, the group have already seen more motorway tarmac than many HGV drivers, and while their new album, A-ha Shake Heartbreak , has shifted some 200,000 copies, most of those in Europe.

We partly fell in love with the Followill brothers and their cousin Matthew because they look like a great band should and partly because the Kings' southern gothic background reads like a chapter from the Nick Cave novel, When The Ass Saw The Angel . What has deepened our affection is the band's new-found musical maturity.

It's there in the duelling guitars of Caleb and Matthew. It's there in the grit of Nathan, the drummer, who, played on despite a kidney stone that required emergency surgery after last night's performance.

The Kings' reputation as pin-up philanderers of some stamina appears to have preceded them, hence there were as many indie-music-loving young women as earnest, indie-music-loving males in the audience. It's odd in a way, since Caleb's pigeon-toed stance and bum size make him seem androgynous.

Yet there's no question that's pure testosterone that drives the band-mates' taut and urgent versions of "The Bucket", "Red Morning Light", and "California Waiting". This is a band who look as angelic as the Osmonds yet sound as dirty as the Rolling Stones.

Is it a sign of the times that British maidenhood is being seduced by a band whose songs include unironic references to the male organ ("Pistol of Fire"), and confessions such as "I'd pop myself in your body, I'd cum all over your party but I'm soft" ("Velvet Snow")?

What's very clear, though, is that only a biblical style plague - or a kidney stone - can stop them now.

Kings of Leon tour until 23 December.

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