Concert Review: Queens Of The Stone Age

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By Jake Ebdale

Artist: Queens Of The Stone Age

Date / Venue: Thursday August 23rd, 2018 - Spark Arena, Auckland

Barely a year since their pre-Villains shows in New Zealand, Queens make a triumphant return to Spark Arena in a victory lap that felt like a true celebration of their entire catalogue.

Last night felt like a celebration. Villains, the band’s seventh album, was a slick, sexy collection of tunes, and as poppy as the Queens could possibly go. But this wasn’t a pop show – oh no. QOTSA are still a finely tuned rock n roll juggernaut, and, in this reviewer’s opinion, the the best band of the 21st century by a desert mile. Evidently, they proved this 19 times over, playing something from every album, and proving that the catchier moments from Villains can co-exist peacefully with their more menacing numbers.

A cool opening set by Aussie bluesman C.W Stoneking set the mood. I wasn’t largely impressed by the guy, but he still showed amazing chops through ‘I’m Gon’ Boogaloo’ and what I could make out as a cover of an old Big Bill Broonzy song.

Josh Homme and co, from the opening strains of the barely played ‘A Song for the Deaf’, were absolutely on fire. To use a cliché, they were firing on all cylinders. Fi-yah. Hot. It was by far the most energised and sharp I’ve ever seen the band, largely due to their tree-trunk-armed beast of a drummer that is John Theodore (ex Mars Volta, One Day As a Lion), who smashed out a ridiculous solo during hit ‘No One Knows’. I could see some serious air paradiddles from the review section.

Though we got a plethora of hits – ‘The Way You Used To Do’, ‘Make It Witchu’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ getting the biggest pops, along with ‘No One Knows’ – the gold was in the deep cuts. You need to count yourself lucky to hear ‘A Song for the Deaf’ and ‘A Song for the Dead’ in the same show, especially as bookends. ‘In the Fade’, a slinky ballad from Rated R, was a welcome addition to the set, as well as the fan requested ‘Mexicola’ from their debut, which is an absolute stinking hot jam. The crowd lapped it up – this was the first time I’ve seen a decent, slightly dangerous moshpit in the last few years of shows.

The fact that Queens still deviate and mix it up – this was a victory lap, but by no means did they rest on their laurels – again proves that they’re the best band in the world right now.