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Them Crooked Vultures, Club Nokia, Los Angeles

14 April 2010 2,408 views No Comment

Them Crooked Vultures preview their Coachella set at Club Nokia

Set List;

Elephants

Gunman

Scumbag Blues

Dead End Friends

Nobody Loves Me

Highway 1

New Fang

Bandoliers

Mind Eraser

Interlude With Ludes (shortened due to Keytar problem)

Caligulove

You Can’t Possibly Begin To Imagine (new song featuring JPJ on fiddle)

Daffodils

Reptiles (not played)

Warsaw

“We’re having a good time up here,” a swaggering, smiling Josh Homme announced to cheers at Club Nokia on Wednesday. He was midway through a two-hour set with Them Crooked Vultures, his band with drummer Dave Grohl and bassist John Paul Jones, and together they were demonstrating just how far they’ve come in a year.

Delivering heavy rock with real flair and finesse is a good trick from any rock act, and an impressive resume is no guarantee for success. That was the challenge when Them Crooked Vultures was birthed last year by singer-guitarist Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Jones (Led Zeppelin). The label “super-group” comes with its own built-in disappointment.

It turns out that the band’s self-titled debut album was only the beginning of where the band would go. At Nokia, Them Crooked Vultures launched that same material much further into the stratosphere, stretched out not only into extended jams but explosive, well-constructed passages, while never wandering off a sonic cliff.

It’s the sound of a band of distinctive artists who have been traveling and challenging one another on the road and onstage for a year of intense experimentation and play, and a clue to the band’s Friday night set at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. The songs have only grown deeper, heavier and looser with time and practice.

As they have from their first shows, they were joined onstage by guitarist Alain Johannes, a longtime associate of Homme’s. Grohl spent the night bent and grimacing over his drums, pounding gut-punch beats with gloved hands, already soaked within the first few minutes.

There was the full, bruising stomp of “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I,” with Jones cradling a 12-string lap-steel bass, adding to the kind of thunder you might imagine roaring from a visiting spaceship. “Scumbag Blues” sounded something like the heaviest brand of blues-rock that once emerged from the ’60s London music scene, echoing Cream with Homme doing a Jack Bruce falsetto, shifting into layers of shimmering, spacey guitar from Homme and Johannes.

Comedy relief came in the form of “Interludes With Ludes,” as Homme put his guitar down to sing warped romantic lyrics (“Is my face still bleeding? Then what is your problem?”) and dance around the stage, tossing a burning cigarette over his shoulder, leaving room for a searing, unhurried solo from Johannes.

There were new songs, suggesting fresh directions for the band, but it could be a while before fans see Them Crooked Vultures again. Homme’s QOTSA has scheduled shows this summer in Europe, and Grohl recently revealed plans to reunite with his Foo Fighters to make a (literal) garage recording with producer Butch Vig, inevitably putting the Vultures on hold.

Their return will be anxiously awaited by connoisseurs of hard rock. A band of this ability, and willingness to challenge itself, is a rare find. The stakes could be heard in the night’s set-closing “Warsaw On the First Breath You Take After You Give Up,” a thundering, melodic storm of sound stretched to 13 minutes. When it was over (as usual, with no encore), both the band and its fans looked utterly spent and happy, and ready for a little bit more.

Review by Steve Appleford from The LA Times

Live Review: Them Crooked Vultures — Club Nokia, Los Angeles

“We came to ruin all,” bellowed Them Crooked Vultures’ Josh Homme midway through a lumbering rendition of “Elephants.”
He wasn’t kidding either.
Them Crooked Vultures basically steamrolled every other rock band on the planet with a transcendent sold out show last night at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. It’s doubtful that warpath will stop when the band hits Coachella tomorrow night either. They just don’t make rock bands like this anymore.
Seriously though, take a minute and think about it…
Who can you think of that could hold their own alongside Homme [Queens of the Stone age, Kyuss, Desert Sessions], John Paul Jones [Led Zeppelin] and Dave Grohl [Foo Fighters, Nirvanna] in terms of chops, showmanship and plain old ass-kicking ability? Is there any band out there as staggeringly awesome as this unholy triumvirate? No, unfortunately there isn’t.
Thankfully the world has Them Crooked Vultures though. For 90-minutes-plus, Them Crooked Vultures ruined in the most hauntingly hypnotic and batteringly beautiful manner imaginable. “Elephants” twisted and turned through tunnels of polyrhythmic riffs with a stomping bass run and Grohl’s impenetrable bashing. Over this epic soundscape, Homme crooned out brilliant, mind-fuck lines like, “I slick back my hair, you know the devil’s in there.”
Homme’s lyrics sound like Quentin Tarantino dialogue. Similar to lines from Pulp Fiction, the lyrics beg for closer examination while just sounding fucking cool. Whether or not the devil’s in there doesn’t matter, because the phrase simply works and has some real balls to it.
“Gunman” and “Scumbag Blues” saw Homme and Jones lock into an unshakable rhythm fueled by Grohl’s drumming. No one hits harder than Grohl and as he pounded out each groove; he managed to conjure a percussive cacophony somewhere between John Bonham and Dave Lombardo. Plus, he never stopped headbanging–even to catch his breath.
John Paul Jones took on the role of one-man orchestra. He’d switch from his trademark bass to speedy mandolin to eerie organ to violin at one point even. Musically, his contributions shined with a psychedelic passion on “No One Loves Me (Neither Do I).” That song in particular hit the way that Led Zeppelin did—not in terms of style, but feeling. When John Paul Jones starts ripping and rocking, it’s impossible not to fall under his spell, and it’s a big factor of why Them Crooked Vultures sound so unique even for the three visionaries in the band’s ranks.
In many ways, it all goes back to Homme. On stage, he’s got a charisma and swagger that few possess. He can also be incisively funny. At one point, he joked, “I’m going to take this time to introduce the band. Dave meet Alain. Alain meet Dave. John meet Dave. Dave meet John.”
Looking up with a smirk, he exclaimed, “These fucking guys don’t know each other.”
They know each other quite well musically though, and the set’s standout “Bandoliers” proved that. Beginning with a snappy opening chord and traversing through a soundscape that sounds like Sergio Leone mixed with Black Sabbath, the song really pushed Them Crooked Vultures to take flight. Homme’s voice soared flawlessly as he cranked out the slow, infectious riff. He delivered the refrain and cut-you-off-parting-words, “This is goodbye” with a genuine longing, anger and even vulnerability.
“Bandoliers” possesses a dark emotionality that bubbles over during the seven minutes. Of course, Homme always goes back to cracking jokes though. Before, “Mind Eraser, No Chaser,” he announced, “This song is about how the government fucking sucks ass!” Grohl laughed, and Homme responded, “What? It’s very important, fucking topical shit! The census is going on!”
Everyone accounted for at Them Crooked Vultures properly got rocked. It all culminated with the trippy, vibrant and strange “Spinning in Daffodils.”
As the band exited triumphantly, one thing was clear. Club Nokia nor the crowd would ever be the same, and everyone else has a lot of work to catch up to these Vultures. They’re so good the devil’s gotta be in there somewhere….

Review by Rick Florino ARTISTdirect.com

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