Queens of the Stone Age // Manchester Arena // 19.11.17
I’ve wanted to see QOTSA for a while now, so was determined to be as close as humanly possible when Josh Homme took centre stage on Sunday night. Although, as Homme told the crowd: “it’s Saturday night – not Sunday – fucking Saturday night”. The Queens philosophy is to forget the outside world when at a show: live for the moment. And after over four hours of queuing, the Californian rock giants proved they are still behemoths of the genre.
Ready and waiting at the centre of the barrier, support came from Broncho. Frontman Ryan Lindsey attempted to talk to the crowd but this mostly came across as an inaudible drone, except from the occasional “ooh, yeah, baby”. With the likes of Ty Segall and Royal Blood supporting QOTSA in the US, it’s hard not to be slightly disappointed by Broncho. Yet Queens’ performance was not tarnished by their support – if anything, they appeared more legendary than normal. The band’s entrance onto stage was greeted with the unified cheers of 20,000 fans.
Opening with the dance-tinged If I Had A Tail, a surge within the crowd caused many to flee over the barrier in fear for their safety. Rolling through Monsters In The Parasol, fan-favourite My God Is The Sun and newbie Feet Don’t Fail Me, a relentless opening was provided for adoring fans. During No One Knows, the band’s newest member Jon Theodore showed off his “chops” via a heart pounding solo. Sweat poured from his face, his lips forming strange expressions as if channelling an otherworldly energy. At one point Theodore dropped his stick; no matter – quick as a flash a spare was pulled from below, and the onslaught continued.
Setlist.com is a useful tool if you are too lazy to bother remembering which songs were played and in what order. However, it can also be a source of disappointment and frustration. Take the recent Nothing But Thieves gig in Manchester’s Albert Hall (excellent) where Setlist.com informed me that, at my annoyance, Hanging was replaced last minute by the vastly inferior Honey Whiskey. I wanted to cry! And to whoever requested Regular John over I Think I Lost My Headache at Queens – I fucking hate you. I also learned that Un-Reborn Again was on the set list, but due to time constraints was not played. Utter, utter betrayal.
After Regular John (fuming!) came The Evil Has Landed, a song about terrorism and especially Homme’s outlook on life following the attack at the Eagles of Death Metal gig at the Bataclan in late 2015. The performance of this song gains more meaning at Manchester Arena due to the tragic bombing earlier this year, however Homme made no comment to the significance of this song, except for announcing its title. Homme rarely talks about the Bataclan, outright refusing to answer any related questions put to him by journalists. I was expecting this song to be played, but I didn’t expect Homme to be so blasé about its meaning.
The band rolled through more classics as the end of the set approached, including Little Sister, I Appear Missing, and Sick, Sick, Sick, before ending on thrashing head-banger Go With The Flow. Returning for the encore, Homme announced the frantic Head Like A Haunted House by saying: “in a way Manchester, this song is about you”, before finishing the legendary set with the solo-filled-extravaganza that is Song For The Dead. We were graced with another of Theodore’s blistering solos, before the band departed. The gig had literally felt 20 mins long, but it had been 2 hours! Queens of the Stone Age had solidified their truly mythical status as not only heroes of the genre, but pioneers in its evolution.