The beginning is like a desert tornado. After ‘Regular John’, their first and best song, Queens of the Stone Age immediately blasts their biggest hit into the Ziggo Dome: ‘No One Knows’. While half the audience is still gasping for breath, the other half is shouting along to the most swinging riff of the last two decades: TA-TAA-TA-DA! TA-TAA-TA-DA!
This is how you blow a room away.
The band from Palm Desert, California, sounds as if death is on their heels, and that was true for a while: singer-guitarist Josh Homme (50) was operated on for cancer. But Homme wouldn’t be Homme if he didn’t celebrate that resurrection with some lame puns. That is why he named his band’s new album In Times New Roman… and the accompanying tour ‘The End is Nero’.
The In Times New Roman review
From a pyramid of multi-colored and flickering light, Queens of the Stone Age gives a masterclass in genre-ignoring music making and improvisation. Here is a band in top form that has built up an astonishingly broad oeuvre with eight albums: from rushed, straight-to-the-point rock (‘Little Sister’, ‘Go With the Flow’), sultry swooning soul (‘I Sat by the Ocean’, ‘Make It Wit Chu’), whining krautrock (‘Time & Place’) to panicky fever dream hectic (‘Sick, Sick, Sick’, ‘Battery Acid’).
The absolute highlight is ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’, which, after a percussion intro by drumming fitness beast Jon Theodore, explodes into a monster jam in which the six-piece rages with intoxicating Eastern scales like snake charmers and the hypnotic riffs seem to suck all the oxygen out of the Ziggo Dome.
However absurdly diverse the Queens oeuvre may now be, the common denominator is the ever-recurring boogie, the eternal heaving bickering that can be both inciting and horny and over which Homme lets his unruly soul vocals slide, with or without a darting head voice.
And yet something has also changed. The usually highly flammable Homme, often not above executing clumsy jerks in the audience with deadly comments (or, if necessary, by throwing a punch), is mainly Josh the Grateful on Saturday evening. Several times he humbly and extensively thanks the city that meant so much to him and where he can now play for the tenth time “as a boy who wanted to get away from a small town by making music”: “Thank you for bringing a small town boy all the way to Amsterdam.”
Fortunately it doesn’t get really sticky. Because when his umpteenth declaration of love is eventually received somewhat lukewarm, the old familiar Josh the Aggrieved sounds again: “Goddamn,” he grumbles. “I said I love you motherfuckers!”View an overview of our reviews about pop, jazz and world