Monday, May 12, 2008

They want it all

I feel like I've been on my feet all weekend: Running here and there to lunch with relatives, buy a few Mother's Day gifts, pedaling to work and back, checking out the Not Your Grandmother's Craft Sale (which was jammed - time for a larger room, I think!). And of course seeing Queens of the Stone Age perform on what would be centre ice at the Civic Centre. I went there directly from dinner with mom at Flipper's, and only had to wait a quarter-hour before Icelandic opener Mugison got on stage.
I can see why he's been selected to round out the bill. Mugison has a dedication to riff rock and a peculiar sense of humour (Exhibit A, a song titled Jesus Is A Good Name to Moan). He records as a solo artist, but for his supporting slot on the QOTSA tour he has a guitarist, drummer, bassist and keyboardist/trombonist alongside. The bearded, cowboy-hatted performer and his cohorts got a very sympathetic reception from a crowd that was almost entirely unfamiliar with his music. I thought it was okay: Not super memorable, and his occasional lapse into cookie-monster vocals I can do without, but a pleasant way to spend 45 minutes. I can see him being much more versatile and interesting in a smaller setting, and it may be worthwhile to check out the album coming out on Ipecac in June.
There was a brief bit of standing about while the roadies unveiled the chandelier/discoball hybrids that decorate QOTSA's performance, tune gear, sing along to Motorhead's Ace of Spades.
A few minutes past 9 p.m. and the Queens of the Stone Age appear to a mighty roar from the crowd. They've sure come up in the world since I saw them play Zaphod's. My sister and I went that night to see The Quadrajets (who never made it across the border) and the mysterious Kyuss offshoot/descendant that, at the time, including Dave Catching on steel guitar and - this may just be fuzzy memory - Pete Stahl on vocals. Nick Oliveri was still on bass then.
Nowadays it's a whole new crew, apart from frontman Joshua Homme, and they do a super job of replicating the songs from the various albums. Bassist Michael Shuman in particular seems to enjoy flipping his hair about and doing kicks.
They've got a fair number of shows under their belt by now of course, and a corps of roadies to make sure things go smoothly. It was a very solid performance, with Homme in good voice. About my only complaint would the damn strobe lighting. I don't mind my ears hurting after a show, but my eyes? Homme had a bit of choice banter - including telling someone who threw a shirt on stage that "I don't need your underwear - I already know you're full of shit." Other than that, the crowd was fairly well behaved. Homme also promised the crowd he'd be drunk by the end of the show. A steading string of cups of vodka notwithstanding, he was still pretty focussed by the end of the show. Then he drank a couple of more glasses. He's a big guy, and I suspect he's got a fairly high tolerance for alcohol.
The show seemed heavily weighted to the "middle era": Go With The Flow, Feel Good Hit of the Summer and other Songs for The Deaf and R tunes bulked out the playlist (or perhaps they were just the most memorable offerings). There was some later stuff, including Burn The Witch from Lullabyes to Paralyze and the lead tune from their new album, Turnin' On The Screw. They also played a couple of tunes from the first Man's Ruin album . "I know a lot of you don't have it," declared Homme, 'but it's pretty damn good." The band then proceeded to kick out How To Handle A Rope.
It being Mother's Day, they also dedicated a song to everyone's mother Make It Wit Chu - of course they had the audience sing the chorus. They finished with a two-song encore and a show-ending No One Knows.
  • Show reminder: The White Wires and Montreal's great Nymphets perform a free show at The Manx tonight. The Sunjet Records Band - who definitely sound like they're worth future investigation - Dex and The Dire Royalty and Dave Bean play Zaphod's.

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