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Rocky ending for Kings spoils raucous concert

Caleb Followill (here performing in July) and the Kings of Leon played the Paradise on Tuesday. Caleb Followill (here performing in July) and the Kings of Leon played the Paradise on Tuesday. (Jeff j mitchell/getty images/file)

Oh, that crazy Caleb Followill! One minute, he's working through a perfectly serviceable set of rock 'n' roll, a crucifix winking from the open neck of his pressed white shirt. The next, the lead singer of Kings of Leon is storming off stage in a flurry of flying spitballs, a middle finger held defiantly aloft.

For the record, this wasn't in the script. Tuesday night's concert at the Paradise Rock Club was intended as a kind of do-over for the Southern rockers, who had failed to show up at June's WFNX block party. The official cause was unexpected illness; the boys were replaced at the last minute by a Scottish outfit called the Cinematics. FNX did not refund tickets, but it did stage a contest for station cardholders. Three hundred fans won admittance to the Paradise show, and each fan was allowed to bring one guest.

That kind of crowd -- charged and, more importantly, grateful -- should have contributed to an energized gig. And for a while, it did: The Kings of Leon roared through a good chunk of 2005's "Aha Shake Heartbreak," sampled its popular 2003 debut, and steered mostly clear of the new album, "Because of the Times," which was a critical failure.

The Followills -- three brothers and one cousin -- have painted themselves as messy purveyors of garage rock, equal parts raw lyricism and errant noise. In practice, there are few modern bands (the Strokes are one) that play live in such tight lock-step, and with so little improvisation. Within 25 minutes, Caleb sang a pitch-perfect "Taper Jean Girl," lead guitarist Matthew Followill thrashed into a rote "Pistol of Fire," and drummer Nathan Followill played "Molly's Chambers," without a thump to spare. The delivery was clean; all excess was shaved off.

"We were going to make this a short concert," Caleb announced at the 30-minute mark, apparently happy with the crowd response. "I think we're going to play a longer one."

But 10 minutes later, he spit into the crowd and retreated backstage. Kate Cafaro, a publicist for the band, said in an e-mail that the immediate cause was "severe technical difficulties" and "some less-than-gracious fans in the front." According to crowd members closest to the stage, plastic projectiles had been thrown at Caleb's head in the last minutes of the set, at one point landing on Matthew's kit.

Added Cafaro: Kings of Leon "will be back in the fall and are looking forward to it."

'Related'

Kings of Leon

At: Paradise Rock Club, Tuesday night

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