@ Newcastle Empire Cinema, June 25 2011

Following in the recent spate of music documentaries ranging from the pop of Justin Bieber and JLS to rock and the Foo Fighters, Rush and Maiden, comes the latest effort from Southern rockers Kings Of Leon.

Billed as a one night only peek into the band’s journey from a bible bashing background to contemporary guitar heroes, it didn’t disappoint. 

KoL have always maintained an air of modesty and seemingly avoid the limelight, but after a peek behind the curtain it’s easy to see why thousands of fans flock to stadiums and arenas at the mere mention of their name.

The majority of the documentary is set firmly in the middle of nowhere in the almost achingly stereotypical southern town of Talihina, transporting fans to where it all began. The ease of transition through editing between visits back home and touring delivers the perfect visual aid to how much they value their roots.

The term warts and all is thrown around too casually but sums up Talihina Sky perfectly. From a refreshingly honest argument to talking about Caleb, Nathan and Jared’s parents’ separation, no subject is too personal. And the movie is all the better for it, no cover-ups, no superficial happy family pretences.

The real stars of the film end up being the weird and wonderful extended Followill family, who manage to tick every tired cliché of southern Americans. But every time footage seems to curtail down a cul-de-sac , it serves as a perfect reminder of just how grounded the band really are. Playing horseshoes and bathing in the local river come so naturally it would be impossible to force for the sake of keeping up appearances.

Fans of the band are invited to personal glimpses of the birth of iconic record Use Somebody and the group’s quite liberal views on ‘radio tracks’ and not so subtly hint at their disdain for fair-weather fans.

In a world where getting up-close and personal with musicians is near on impossible, Talihina Sky provides a refreshingly honest and open experience for any music fan. Drugs, porn, rock and roll with a mixture of heart and soul the way all music documentaries should be…and not a pair of 3d glasses in sight!

Just a quick note on the Live Q&A session that followed in cinemas. A seemingly inebriated KoL took to a stage in Scotland giving a hilarious and frank set of answers to stock questions. Spare a thought for the BBC Scotland presenter, who found himself constantly tortured by the band from start to finish but allowed the band to show a side of themselves that adds further to their accessibility.

Andy Spoors