One thing became very clear as a packed Festival Hall braved a chilly Melbourne night to get a glimpse of the legendary Queens Of The Stone Age. That one clear thing is that Josh Homme and co. are one of the most understated rock bands in the world. Homme exclaimed during the show, “I didn’t realise that we had been together for twenty years now” – so it would seem neither do most rock bands; something that is an absolute tragedy.
Last night, Queens Of The Stone Age reminded us why they are one of the most important bands going around at the moment, and why Homme is one of the most talented frontmen, as well. As Homme walked across the stage at one moment blowing smoke from his mouth, his casual swagger conjured up thoughts of Johnny Cash and one of Festival Hall’s most notorious visitors, Jimmy Barnes.
Without an over-the-top stage show, a mass of pyrotechnics or anything similar, Queens Of The Stone Age managed to deliver a rock gig that we are all going to remember for a long time to come. And this is just from the skill of the musicians at hand, and to the fine back catalogue that the band have managed to piece together over the years.
At times, it almost seemed like the band were too perfect. Their hits – tracks like “If I Had A Tail” and “I Sat By The Ocean” – sounded studio-perfect. That, by the way, is not a criticism; especially not after hearing bands like The Maine this year deliver live versions of hits that almost sounded unrecognisable. The fact these tracks were so close to what you would hear on the album meant that the fans could sing along without the fear of suddenly finding themselves singing off-key as something changed with the live version. The crowd simply lapped that up. Credit also has to be paid to the band for doing “No One Knows” so early in the night as well, rather than do the clichéd ‘let’s leave the big hit til the encore.’ QOTSA knew they were putting on such a great show that any would be stupid to want to leave early.
In fact, this was a night where clichés were thrown completely out the window. While some may have scoffed at Homme declaring that Melbourne was his home away from home, it was completely believable when you realise that his wife, Brody Dalle, is from Melbourne. For this reason, he dedicated the bands’ new single, “The Way You Used To Do” to her. Melbourne was also privileged to get another taste off of the forthcoming Villains album with the epic “The Evil Has Landed” (and no, Josh, you didn’t have to worry – it wasn’t crap).
What was impressive about the show was the many faces of Queens Of The Stone Age that came to light. From the funky sound of “Smooth Sailing” and “Misfit Love”, the stampeding drums of “Burn The Witch” to the raw, grungy version of “Sick, Sick, Sick”, the band brought something different to every track. And then there was the great flashback with Homme performing “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer” (with a tinge of INXS’ “Devil Inside”). To top it off, Homme got behind the keyboard for a haunting version of “The Vampyre Of Time And Memory”.
Last night, Queens Of The Stone Age delivered a brilliant show that not only wowed their hardcore fans but won over a lot of people with a newfound respect.
Words by Dave Griffiths. Photos by Matt Allan.