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Them Crooked Vultures, Hammersmith Apollo

17 December 2009 3,116 views No Comment

December 17th 2009

Set List

No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
Dead End Friends
Scumbag Blues
Highway One
New Fang
Mind Eraser, No Chaser
Interlude with Ludes
Spinning in Daffodils
Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up

Them Crooked Vultures – Live at Hammersmith Apollo 17/12/09


By Colin Miller

When it was announced that Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones were teaming up to form a band called “Them Crooked Vultures”, eyebrows were naturally raised.

With John Paul Jones on bass and Dave Grohl back behind the drum kit, it could be argued talented Queens of the Stone Age singer/songwriter Josh Homme had been graced with one the best rhythm sections imaginable.

Drawing on the collective talent acquired during their time in their respective bands – Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters/Nirvana and of course Led Zeppelin – the band played an hour and half set that mostly consisted of tracks from their debut album.

Opening with the blues number “Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I”, the band quickly settled themselves on the stage, and by the time the the song reached its explosive crescendo, it was clear the Vultures were on top form.

After a couple of songs, Josh Homme introduced the band. Starting off with Dave Grohl and then Alain Johannes, the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for John Paul Jones (the English homeboy and Led Zeppelin legend).

Throughout the set the band showcased their musical abilities by venturing off from the established songs on the album and exploring new territory. During the performance of Scumbag Blues, the guitars dropped out and gave Dave Grohl (drums) and John Paul Jones (bass) the opportunity to have a bit of fun.

Joining the band on stage was multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes, assisting the band mostly on second guitar. Playing the odd solo here and there and occasionally dropping off to play something else, like the clavinet, his addition brought a lot of depth to the show.

One highlight of the show was the creepy and haunting Interludes With Ludes. Not only did John Paul Jones come on stage with a keytar (a purchase from eBay apparently), prompting Josh Homme to state “only he could make that look good”, but the frontman then proceeded to dance round on stage whilst singing the song. For an individual who is rarely seen not playing guitar, this brought a refreshing change to the evening.

“Elephants” proved to be popular, sounding even more energetic than the album version and highlighting how disciplined the band have become with all the changes in tempo spot on.

Another highlight was Gunman, dedicated to “all the boozers” and featuring the funkiest guitar riff possible, along with some perfectly timed breaks. Needless to say the audience was quickly whipped up into a frenzy.

New songs were also given an airing. The song “The Way We Were” saw John Paul Jones take to the mandolin, yet still managed to sound as solid and heavy as their other songs.

Other favourites included Bandoliers, Spinning in Daffodils, Dead End Friends and Reptiles.

The band finished the set with “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up”, once again venturing off into new territory, only to come back to its hook line at the very last moment.

Ultimately the band were on top form, and as musically tight and disciplined as you would expect given their musical credentials. They were clearly having fun, something that makes a big difference when seeing a band live.

As the band got together and bowed to the audience, it was clear that they felt honoured to play to such a receptive crowd. Equally, the same crowd clearly felt honoured to have witnessed four musicians performing at the top of their game.




Them Crooked Vultures at the Apollo, London W6



Rock legacies don’t come much heavier, in all senses, than those of Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. So a group combining the Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and the Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones together with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme was always going to attract special attention. Even so, the speed with which Them Crooked Vultures have forged a cohesive musical identity and collared a fully subscribed audience has been impressive. They only played their first gig together in August, yet rolled into London towards the end of a sold-out European tour with the overwhelming majesty of an all-conquering rock’n’roll juggernaut.

The group has proved adept at avoiding the pitfalls of their “supergroup” status while skilfully milking the privileges attached to it. Their self-titled album is a collection of carefully crafted original songs with no opportunistic revivals of old favourites or nods toward their former glories. Their show, likewise, stayed rigorously in the moment. The three strode on to tumultuous applause, Homme brazenly smoking the first of several cigarettes that he chucked nonchalantly over his shoulder on to the carpeted stage as the band struck up the pulverising riff No One Loves Me & Neither Do I. Moving at a furious punk-metal pace the number nevertheless evolved over a leisurely seven or eight minutes into a rather sprawling, prog-rock odyssey, a formula that defined many of the songs, including Scumbag Blues with its long, instrumental jamming section and Reptiles with its regal, echo-of-Zeppelin riff.

The individual standard of musicianship was as awesome as you would expect. Homme played swift, staccato guitar riffs and sang across the beat in a sad, sinister falsetto. Jones played seismic bass lines, switching at various times to keyboards, bass pedals and other guitar-type instruments. And Grohl hammered his drums with an almost supernatural vigour, combining the physical and the technical in a package that makes him arguably the best rock drummer in the world today.

But the whole was even greater than the combination of these parts. This was due in some respects to the sleight of hand by which the trio employs an additional “fourth member”, Alain Johannes, who was there at all times to shore up the sound with discreet yet often telling contributions on guitar, keyboards and bass. They also benefited from the services of a lighting designer who deserved to qualify as a fifth member of the band, so accurately and brilliantly were the lighting changes synchronised with the arrangements of the songs.

After winding up to a colossal climax during the finale of Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up they rather lost their way at the end of the show with a meandering postscript that defused the tension a little too completely. They took it all too far, but, boy, could these guys play guitar.


Them Crooked Vultures thrashed and pounded away at their Hammersmith Apollo show.

By Tim Burrows Daily Telegraph
As Them Crooked Vultures – the supergroup comprising the dangerous looking Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age up front on guitar and vocals, smiley Dave Grohl from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters on drums, and respectable elder John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin on bass – prepared to take the Apollo stage, conditions outside felt ominous. Icy winds blowing in from the East gripped Hammersmith as touts and T-shirt sellers desperately tried to offload their stock in a bid to flee the bitter cold.

The band soon warmed things up as they launched into the breakneck speed of song Dead End Friends. They play a heavy rock stomp for connoisseurs, fusing the paranoid rock of QOTSA, the thump ‘n’ grind of Nirvana and the hard-edged, nuanced blues-funk of Led Zeppelin.

 The state of the mainstream rock business being what it is, Them Crooked Vultures is an apt name, reflecting the industry’s desperate search for the next scrap of sustenance from which to feed. It might explain why there has been so much ‘future of rock’ talk about this group: their rise out of nowhere earlier this year following secret rehearsals has been one of the most talked about stories in music. On this showing any claim that the band are rock’s new prophets seems a bit unfounded. What they are is a good-time, ticket-selling rock group, led by three quite highly skilled veteran practitioners of the genre and a guitarist, Alain Johannes, who arguably outshone the lot of them.

While the trio of famous rock gods thrashed and pounded away, Johannes played delicate Spanish-tinged scales, adding a much needed texture and subtlety to the sound.

Homme is the alternative all-American rock idol; the kind of guy who kisses his mom’s friend sweetly on the cheek while grabbing the behind of her daughter while she’s not looking. “I love you London!” he drawled, with his eye on one Londoner in particular, a female fan he had singled out a few rows back.

Rock trades on danger and that is what this group are all about; the savage and the profane packaged safely and played expertly so that fans leave happy. As they careered towards the finale during Warsaw or The Last Breath You Take After You Give Up, Grohl’s hair and arms flailed as Homme and Jones moved in closer to each other, with a hesitancy reflecting a relationship still in its infancy – but with hopefully plenty of room to grow.


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