Monday, October 5, 2009
Them Crooked Vultures
Not to be outdone by his Led Zeppelin cohort, John Paul Jones aligned himself with two rock icons. Them Crooked Vultures is the resulting collaboration between Jonsey, Dave Grohl, and Josh Homme. This being only the group's tenth show together, and their first on the U.S. tour, it is clear to see that these guys are worthy of the "supergroup" brand. There was a large amount of curiosity in the audience leading up to the show, as these guys haven't been together long, nor have they released any recorded material, making the mystery of this show even deeper. Most people I talked to had only seen shoddy video snippets on youtube.
After cheering for roadies for what seemed like forever, the crowd went ape as the lights went down and the trio finally took the stage joined by second guitarist Alain Johannes, also of Queens of the Stone Age fame. They greeted us with waves and promises to play some new music "as hard as we know how." And then that's exactly what they did. Dave Grohl kicked into a combustion of noise and frenzied light with an extended intro on the first song. This sensory combination continued through most of the show, with hard hitting songs one right after the other. Not much stage banter to speak of, other than thank you's and song titles. When Homme introduced the band, John Paul Jones received an enormous standing ovation, way larger than any other member. I mean why not? John Paul Jones playing his trademark walking bass lines on monstrous distorted basses in our town. He was also featured in a piano solo, on organ/foot pedal bass, and with a key-tar. Dave Grohl was an absolute beast on the drums, reminding us of his early exploits, as well as the rock power that Foo Fighters have lacked in recent years. Good to know he still has it. He has lots of it. Josh Homme was the perfect front man for this outfit, using his complete vocal range and battering us with his huge riffs on his many guitars.
The music itself was really heavy on the Queens influence. People expecting a Foo Fighters or Zeppelin show might have been a little addled, especially if they weren't familiar with the less popular Queens. The songs were forcible and dynamic, including a few with extended guitar jam type sections that really took off into pandemonium. The only breather moment came mid-show with the lounge style ditty featuring a guitar-less Homme crooning and Jonsey on the aforementioned key-tar. The last song was an epic number with multiple peak and vally sections that sent the crowd into a final frenzy. Then they waved, said thanks and walked off, and before the drunk sweaty crowd could demand an encore, the lights came up and the house music came on. I guess when you've only been a band for a number of months and you just played an hour and a half of brand new material, you just might not have an encore to play, no matter how bewildered the audience appears to be.
I hope this band sticks around for a little while. At least long enough to put out a couple of records and build on their obvious outbreak chemistry. It was cool how the music was so unfamiliar to everyone. With no singing along, and no huge cheers for radio hits, the crowd was almost forced to focus on the music, which I think the band enjoyed too. This is the kind of show that you never forget. Three legendary powerhouses in one band in an awesome venue in Nashville Tennessee.