Queens Of The Stone Age – live review

Queens Of The Stone Age
Manchester Academy
May 21st

Could this be the best band in the world right now?

Queens Of The Stone Age are powering their way through an astonishing set in a sweltering, over full Manchester Academy.

Ninety minutes of imagination, bludgeoning riffs and molten, twisted licks. It’s a hypnotic bulldozer of sound that manages somehow to mash hard rock, tripped out psychedelia, the punk rock rush of GBH and Brit second wave punk with the sixties freak blues of Cream, into a desert dust storm of sound all of their own.

The band are dealing out a rare rendition of the self-titled 1998 debut album that set the patent for so called stoner rock. The album was made up of loose desert jams, freak-out hedonism and a dark sense of humour scouring its freak grooves.

Much copied but never equalled, the album oozes with a dark power and live still pulses with its stunning power re-inventing the whole notion of what rock could be.

It’s been three years since the band’s last album, ”˜Era Vulgaris’, and the Queens are slowly twitching back into life again. These four quick UK shows are a timely reminder of their existence and a momentary statement of intent.

They kick the set off with debut album opener ”˜Regular John’, there is an instant avalanche of bodies. Everything in the room is sweating, from my head, my back and my legs- and I’m standing there- to the walls themselves and the bands riffs- which are so hot I could swear they have cranked up the temperature another notch.

The audience is screaming the chorus “Open up your eyes, Open up your room, Open up your arms”.
It’s fantastic opener to the set and the beginning to one of the sweatiest, most epic rock shows I have ever had the pleasure to attend. The rest of the album powers in and leaves no-one ion any doubt that this is the best rock band in the world right now.

Queens are so far ahead that everyone has to go to their court to find out the secret. Artic Monkeys got the ginger Elvis, Josh Homme himself, to make them sound like men instead of boys. Meanwhile everyone else is watching, waiting for their next move. Just where can rock music go in the 21st century? Does it have to go hi tech to peer into the future or can you do it with guitars and drums, the old wood and wire that’s served for decades.

Queens prove that you can take the roots and go somewhere else. The songs are deceptively- bludgeoning- simple but its Homme’s eerie, quicksilver, crooning vocals that give the their edge. His voice is super melodic and smooth and drips a sexy, suave texture and takes the band away from screeching rock dynamics into a very different space. His guitar playing is exemplary- especially those hypnotic licks that really pull you, there are points when they could go on for ever and you get lost inside their twirling genius.

The album delivered to an ecstatic hall the band return for half an hour of encores including a monstrous ”˜Rated R’. Kicking in with the stub toed bass that sounds like the end of time before Homme intones the list of highs which are as compulsive as ever. The song, now stretched taut dynamically is brutally succinct and still a personal favourite. ”˜Feel Good Hit Of The Summer ”˜ then pimp rolls with its own stealthy melodic power before the band end with the neo desert funk of ‘Make it Wit Chu’.
Total meltdown.

With Glastonbury on the horizon and a new album almost ready to go the Queens is back in full force.- a perfect example of where rock is right now.


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4 comments on “Queens Of The Stone Age – live review”

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  1. Nice review John. I saw the band at The Roundhouse last week and the same question crossed my mind – is this the best band in the world?

    I’ve seen QOTSA a number of times in the past and Josh Homme is one of the few musicians I wouldn’t mind interviewing.

    His work with Them Crooked Vultures is also excellent. When I saw them live I was surprised by how much Homme flavoured the band, given that he is playing with members of Led Zeppelin and Nirvana/The Foo Fighters.

    Josh Homme is a man with a musical vision, that’s for sure.

  2. Have seen Queens on several occasions, but the roundhouse gig took the biscuit. THE band of now and for a long time to come (hopefully!!)
    Punk, rock and psychedelia in one maginficant hit’ long live the ginger one!!!!

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