Queens of the Stone Age UK tour dates are rarer than apocalypse predictions, so as soon as tickets were released a few months back I snapped some up. The fact they were playing The Academy only heighted the excitement; I wasn’t sure a sound as big as that would even fit in there. Touring to support their remastered eponymous first album, the band would be playing the record from start to finish. All this together makes for a pretty volatile package for QOTSA fan.
In support were The Dough Rollers, a band I’ve never heard of and had more than a little trouble finding anything about afterwards. But what a sound. Think rockabilly music with some of the darkness of desert rock. These guys put on one hell of a show, throw back in style without ever being trite. And the crowd in turn gave them a much warmer reception than any support band could usually hope for. Only let down by some messy sound mixing, The Dough Rollers really got things, er, moving.
A little late on stage, QOTSA didn’t even say a word before launching into the first track, Regular John. This song sums up pretty well what the first album was about, an all dominating wall of sound, dark and peculiar tonal shifts and one chord rifts that you WILL listen to for several minutes. I swear I have never heard a better opener to a gig. As the lights silhouetted the Homme and co., the bass enveloped me and vibrated up my legs, I wondered briefly if this might be the rapture after all.
The album starts out very strongly, and so did the band. Avon and If Only seemed only further bolstered by being performed live, Avon especially threatening to steal the show for itself. But, as the album starts to lose a little something half way in, the band did too. Standout album track You Would Know didn’t translate so well to the performance, and it seemed like the loss of focus carried over to the songs following it. But after muddling around for a while, Hispanic Impressions, a daft instrumental track, seem to get everything in place again. With one of the B-sides from the rerelease and a little shifting of the track order, the album thundered to a closed. That was fantastic, but was that it?
It wasn’t. The second half of the gig served as a greatest hits session, featuring many of the bands singles, although missing out what are probably their biggest hitters. But for a crowd who’d come to hear the first album, this wasn’t a problem. Overall a colossal performance was delivered; maybe when you know what a bands going to play next a bit of excitement is lost, but the second half made up for this in spades. It only really begs one question- after a bit of a break and rest, what are QOTSA cooking up for us next?