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Live Review: Queens of the Stone Age @ The O2 Arena, London (21/11/17)

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When a mundane Tuesday in November became a stoner rock Saturday night paradise, myself and the rest of the crowd at the O2 knew we were in for the gig of our lives. 

Twenty minutes passed after support act Broncho left the stage, the lights went down once again revealing a curtain veiling the stage. Suddenly, the obscure, 70s’ disco track ‘Walk the Night’ by the Skatt Brothers echoed throughout the arena, the curtain whisked out of view giving Queens of the Stone Age a groovy, sexy entrance that only they could procure.

The curtain fell, the band strutted their way center stage and fell headfirst into ‘If I Had a Tail’ from their 2013 record, …Like Clockwork. From there, the band pretty much covered all bases with their entire discography. Their most notable tracks were there – ‘No One Knows’, ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’, ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ and ‘Go with the Flow’ – whilst also pertaining to the hardcore fans with tracks such as ‘Regular John’ (which has been interchanged with ‘Avon’ at other gigs) – the first track of their debut record and ‘Monsters in the Parasol’.

The majority of the setlist obviously gave way to their latest record Villains, but also surprisingly centered around a lot of tracks off …Like Clockwork which I wasn’t expecting. For some, I can see this being a bad thing – a lot of their classics are hidden within their first five records which are probably the ones that fans want to hear live. But that’s the thing with Queens that I wasn’t expecting … they’re better live than they are in the studio.

I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Queens of the Stone Age live before, so I’ve never experienced the contrast, but boy, do they deliver. The band had a lot of flack for having ‘pop’ producer Mark Ronson produce Villains, lending to a more audibly polished sound rather than their gritty, violent rhythm and bass guitars that penetrate through the rest of their discography. Once the band kicked in with ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ and ‘The Way You Used to Do’, it was 10x heavier than the studio version. You could feel the bass in your chest, the drums pounding and the crowd going absolutely mental for Queens as they beat the shit out of their equipment and the trippy lighting rig.

Frontman Josh Homme held the audience in the palm of his hand, oozing with his infectious demeanor and sex appeal whilst bouncing off his equally badass bandmates – Troy Van Leeuwen, Michael Shuman, Dean Fertita and Jon Theodore – playing around with the audience and holding them in a trance. You can tell that Homme didn’t want to be anywhere else but on that stage, receiving bras and underwear from skilled audience members to pole dancing with the lighting rig. His quips between tracks and oblivious, care-free attitude make Queens of the Stone Age just so cool; even cooler to see in person than to just listen to or watch their music videos.

This tour and Villains, in general, have marked a promising turning point for Queens of the Stone Age. They have retained that guttural, uniquely rock ‘n roll sound that they’ve always been synonymous with – along with the image – whilst also experimenting with things like new producers and new approaches to their sound. Seeing them live at this point in their career was a treat, all their experience, memories, highs and lows all permeate through the band’s individual performances, whilst also striving to give the audience the same deal.

To cut a long story short, 2017’s Queens of the Stone Age do not disappoint.

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