REVIEW: Queens of the Stone Age at Red Rocks, 08-15-13

Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

Call me a fanboy. Call me obsessed. Call me what ever you’d like, but I’m of the firm belief that no band has made better rock music over the past decade-and-a-half than Queens of the Stone Age. Queens is one of the few great bands whose output has never once slackened; all six of their albums range from “extremely good” to “classic.” The band’s latest album, …Like Clockwork, is one of the strongest, most even efforts the band has ever made, coming 15 years after the first album.

The current lineup of Queens — Josh Homme (guitar/vocals), Dean Fertita (guitars/keys), Troy Van Leeuwen (guitars), Michael Shuman (bass) and Jon Theodore (drums) — didn’t take long to start rocking. Things kicked off with “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” the first track of …Like Clockwork. The sounds coming from the stage were true to the album, every harmony, every sludgy guitar outburst was there and sounded phenomenal. The band moved on to “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire,” a fantastic song that kicked off the band’s most popular album, 2002’s Songs For The Deaf. The album version of this song features a two-headed dragon in the form of Homme’s and then-bassist Nick Oliveri’s vocals, and since Homme fired Oliveri, Homme has been singing both parts on his own. Without Oliveri’s raspy scream, the song just feels a touch empty. It’s too good a song to not play live, so I understand why QOTSA still includes it in their setlist, but without Oliveri, the song just suffers.

The third song in the set was “No One Knows,” perhaps the band’s most popular song, again from Songs For The Deaf. Then came “My God Is The Sun,” from …Like Clockwork, “Monsters in the Parasol,” from Rated R, “Burn The Witch” and “Long Slow Goodbye” from Lullabies to Paralyze. The setlist pulled from every Queens album but the first and included seven out of the 10 songs from …Like Clockwork.

This is the first Queens tour with drummer Theodore, best known for his work with The Mars Volta. Theodore is a monster drummer, capable of mind-bending pyrotechnics and polyrhythms, but he played the QOTSA drum parts without any surprises. There were no daring variations from the script, just dependable, solid rock drumming. He fit in well with the new bandmates.

“Go With The Flow” ended the set, and the crowd didn’t have to wait too long for an encore. Soon the band returned, and Queens launched into “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer,” prompting a sing-along to the catchy lyrics, “Nicotine, Valium, Vicotin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol / C-c-c-c-c-cocaine!” The band then played “I Sat By The Ocean,” the single from …Like Clockwork, and closed the night with “Songs For The Dead,” which Homme introduced as “the best song we’ve got.” Theodore faithfully pounded at the drum part written originally by Dave Grohl, and the band thundered through the song. They left the stage, and the crowd filtered out into the warm summer night.

All photos by Amanda Wilson Clark