QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
No surprises that the hall is absolutely heaving given the social media roaring and shouting that’s being going on all week. “Only three days to go!” “QOTSA Day is nearly here!”, and the like. The standing crowd are so tightly packed that when it all kicks off later on, and serious moshing breaks out, the bouncers can’t get next or near the centre of the maelstrom. The reason for all this freakery, fawning and flummery is the fabulous noise made by Queens Of The Stone Age. Over a marvellous series of albums, from the chug of the 1998 debut that Josh Homme began soon after the demise of Kyuss, to the Mark Ronson-assisted glam stomp of this year’s Villains, they have emerged as the premiere hard rock band. Some might say that title belongs with their associates Foo Fighters, but the Queens just make better records.
It is a monumental racket. After the blistering opening one-two of ‘Walk The Night’ and ‘If I Had A Tail’, we get the stoner Status Quoisms of ‘Monsters In The Parasol’. So far so good, but then things go up a notch. ‘My God Is The Sun’ pummels like a heavyweight, while there’s an extended, ominous intro to ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’, before the beat drops like a piano hitting concrete.
“It’s the last night of our tour. We couldn’t think of a better city to end it in than here,” Homme offers, but the flattery isn’t necessary – the whole place is already in his pocket. Notably, drummer Jon Theodore takes out every bit of aggression he ever had on his poor kit during ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire’ and ‘No One Knows’.
Homme drops the ball very slightly with a damp hippy speech about how we don’t work for each other, and we should let go and break out of our cages, blah-blah, before redeeming himself by hammering into ‘Domesticated Animals’, followed by a brilliant ‘Make It With Chu’ – complete with extended bluesy guitar wig-out. ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ is like a mudslide of noise, cascading into ‘Go With The Flow’, which furiously brings the main part of the show to a close.
We don’t get much time to towel ourselves down before they’re back with a pulverising triptych of ‘Misfit Love’, ‘Head Like A Haunted House’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’. In the bar afterwards, my ears are ringing like a sex scandal hotline. Is it too late to update those “gig of the year” lists?