- 25 Nov 17
“A Monumental Racket”: Pat Carty is granted an audience with rock royalty
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 opening stab at The Skatt Brother’s creepy disco, by way of Grand Theft Auto, hit ‘Walk The Night’, and the brilliant ‘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 heavy weight, the Nuremberg rally lights blinding behind various guitar players throwing shapes like that Enrich Keckel painting Bowie and Iggy Pop nicked off. There’s an extended, ominous intro to ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ before the beat drops like a piano hitting concrete, heads are banging like it’s Bruxellles’ basement.
“It’s the last night of our tour. We couldn’t think of a better city to end it in then here”, Homme offers, but the flattery isn’t necessary, the whole place is already in his pocket. The glam barn dance of ‘The Way You Used To Do’ utilises their lighting to fine effect. Dotted across the stage are what look like eight feet high skinny neon safety bollards, the kind you might run over when you’re making a balls of parking the car. Throughout the show they’ll turn a variety of different colours, like those pound shop rings that claim to be able to read your emotions. The band gets a lot mileage out of either leaning against or kicking the shit out of them. There’s no big video screen, which means the eye is only drawn more to these simple but brilliant props.
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’ – the band even get nervously out of his way and let him solo for a while so he can feel better. At this point, even the young one walking around selling beer is dancing. The thrilling gear change at the end of ‘The Evil Has Landed’ - “Here We Come, Get Out Of The Way!” - gives way to ‘I Sat By The Ocean’, before the set morphs into some sort of East German industrial disco for a coruscating ‘Smooth Sailing’. 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 an awesome ‘Make It With Chu’ complete with extended bluesy guitar wiggery. ‘I Appear Missing’ is all Jack White-style Digitech whammy guitar, and ‘Villains Of Circumstance’ slow things down a bit, giving us a chance to catch our breath, before everyone is trashing around to ‘Little Sister’. ‘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 ‘Misfit Love’, from 2007’s Era Vulgaris, which is a bit of a surprise, as it hasn’t seen much service on this tour. It’s motorik pulse, combined with almost Joy Division drums, is highly effective though, “What’s the hell is this?” my mate Danny asks, “And why haven’t I heard it before?” Homme gives out a story about the Irish fan and the cheeseburger – I’m told later that he’s related this tale before, but if it ain’t broke… - before they cash out with ‘Head Like A Haunted House’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’.
My ears are ringing like a sex scandal hotline in the bar afterwards, which is all you should need to know. Any fears that I might have had that they wouldn’t live up to the brilliance of their last couple of records, …Like Clockwork and Villains, prove totally unfounded, is it too late to update those “gig of the year” lists?