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Them Crooked Vultures, The Fillmore, Denver, CO

19 April 2010 4,584 views No Comment

Them Crooked Vultures at the Fillmore

 

First the goodies: Check out a slideshow here.

So, having seen Lucero last week at the Bluebird, I amazingly got off my lame, seldom-go-to-shows-anymore ass again last night (twice inside a week … I know) for Them Crooked Vultures at the Fillmore Auditorium.

The superband, for those unfamiliar, is comprised of Dave Grohl, frontman for the Foo Fighters and long ago drummer for Nirvana; Josh Homme, frontman for Queens of the Stone Age; and the legendary John Paul Jones, bassist, keyboardist and mandolin player from Led Zeppelin. Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Alain Johannes also plays rhythm guitar with the outfit for live performances.

Fans took the liberty last night to give Jones a name change. Pretty much every time you overheard a conversation, it was “John Paul FUCKING Jones!” After a few songs, when Homme introduced the band, Jones earned the loudest, longest applause. Judging by a few gray hairs in the crowd, it was clear that many folks didn’t want to miss the rare chance to see a Led Zeppelin member in action. They certainly didn’t look like the regular Queens of the Stone Age contingent nor the Foo Fighters pop crowd.

I hadn’t seen Dave Grohl live on drums since a Nirvana show in the early ’90s in Birmingham, Ala. (my first concert!). As much as I like his guitar and vocal work with the Foo Fighters, I think he’s most amazing on drums, at least in terms of stage presence. Grohl put on an energetic session, with exaggerated, crowd-pleasing postures and dramatic pauses — wild, wet long hair flinging and masking his own trademark fu manchu.

Jones swapped instruments regularly during the middle and late portions of the roughly two-hour performance — playing a sleepy piano melody solo and casting his bass aside at one point for a very unmanly keytar and a much cooler electric violin (or was it a fiddle? — I was pretty far back at that point — what’s the difference? — someone please tell me … now you see why I’m the food writer). Whatever he happened to be playing at a given time, he was tight, as was the band as a whole. Superb musicianship overall.

That said — kill me now superfans — I’m not the biggest fan of every song on the album, which was released last November. I certainly don’t think everyone will live on in infamy like most Zeppelin tunes. My guess: Kick-ass tracks like “Reptiles” and “Scumbag Blues” will stick around longest on iPod mixes. Catching those two songs live made the whole performance worthwhile to me.

In closing, copied from a February press release announcing this performance, here’s

10 Things You Really Don’t Need to Ask Them Crooked Vultures:

1) WHAT DOES THE BAND SOUND LIKE? It sounds like the guy from Queens of the Stone Age singing and playing guitar with the bass player from Led Zeppelin and the drummer from Nirvana. Now that music is getting out there, this one is sort of unnecessary but still…

2) HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME/WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Virtually every name the three guys came up with would inevitably be taken. So they came up with one that wasn’t.

3) WHAT PREVIOUS HISTORY DID THE BAND MEMBERS SHARE? To recap their various histories, Dave played drums with Joshua’s Queens of the Stone Age on the 2002 classic Songs For The Deaf and on the first part of the tour supporting that record. John contributed to Dave’s Foo Fighters’ 2005 two-disc opus In Your Honor, contributing piano, mandolin and mellotron to the double album’s quieter second half. John also conducted the orchestra for the Foo Fighters 2008 Grammy performance and, together with his former bandmate Jimmy Page, sat in with the Foos for encores of “Rock and Roll” and “Ramble On” on the second night of the band’s historic two-night stand at London’s Wembley Stadium later that year.

4) HOW/WHEN DID THE BAND FORM AND WHOSE IDEA WAS IT? Dave first came up with the idea of him, Joshua and John playing together. Joshua thought it was a great idea but wasn’t really aware how serious Dave was until Dave essentially set him and John up on a blind date, inviting both of them to his 40th birthday party in January 2009 at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA. He had the two seated together and was able to observe their chemistry from his perch while being knighted and cheering on the Blue Knight.

5) WHERE/WHEN WAS THE RECORD RECORDED? The band members managed to find a break between their other music and family commitments and record the album at Joshua’s Pink Duck studios in Burbank in sessions taking place from February to July 2009.

6) WHO WROTE THE RECORD? All three write and arrange. Joshua is the lyricist.

7) WHO PRODUCED IT? Them Crooked Vultures.

8) WHERE AND WHEN WAS THE BAND’S FIRST SHOW? August 9, 2009 at Cabaret Metro in Chicago.

9) WHENS THE RECORD OUT? NOW!

10) WHAT ARE ALL THOSE DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS JOHN PAUL JONES PLAYS DURING THE LIVE SHOW? OK well that one’s fair game. We didn’t know basses could have all those different numbers of strings. And while we are all celebrating the return of the keytar, we still don’t know what that standing lap steel contraption with what looks like a KAOS pad in it actually is…

Review by Matthew Schniper  from the Colorado Springs Independent

  

Them Crooked Vultures destroys the Fillmore and then feasts on the remains

The rawk fist (index and pinky for horns, thumb tucked) is a tricky little bugger. It’s a totally sincere expression of rock-induced euphoria with all the subtlety of a billy club. Them Crooked Vultures earned thousands of rawk fists Monday at the Fillmore, and I am convinced no band has ever been more deserving, for better and for worse.

Them Crooked Vultures played a two-hour epic, leaving a cursory thirty-minute opening set for Mini Mansions. The connection between the two is Queens of the Stone Age, members of which front both bands.

That’s where things diverge: Mini Mansions is a good but sweet pop act — a fine show to see in different circumstances, but the anxious crowd of long-hairs and manly men came for Led Zeppelin (almost literally), not The Beatles. So: Mini Mansions is sunny and fun, but these people came to be trampled and eaten alive.

Enter Them Crooked Vultures, which is more than capable of delivering that sort of aural destruction. Here’s how this band works: Take a relatively anonymous rhythm guitarist in Alain Johannes, add a drummer and bassist from two of the ten most famous rock bands ever (Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones, respectively), stick Queens of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme in the same role, and come up with an insanely badass band name. Jam away.

​Homme, against all odds, carries the spotlight just fine, despite the fact that his rhythm section came from Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. It’s his unbreakable cool that keeps him afloat. Well, and his wit. After all, it’s the loud funny guy who is the center of attention at the party. One choice piece of banter from Homme, which I hope was spontaneous: “That’s what we do here at the Them Crooked Vultures Corporation. We give you a night you’ll never remember.”

Yep, that about sums it up. There is a bit of a corporate feel here, mostly because two and maybe three of these guys are bona fide celebrities – there was surely a not-insignificant portion on crowd who came just to gawk. But it’s also lent sterility by the fact that you know for sure these guys never endured much of anything together – just packed houses and charter busses.

​No disrespect meant to the members, who all did the dead show and the broken down van at some point in their careers. More than that, all of these guys have been involved in the creation of mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting music, and the resulting glow of genius trickles into moments of Them Crooked Vultures. “New Fang,” played maybe forty minutes into the set, is a song for which the only appropriate reaction is, “Wow.”

Up to that point, it had been a no breaks, one killer riff after another, Grohl back there reminding everyone that he can beat the shit out of a crash cymbal. Then “New Fang,” safely the highlight, and from there it became a test of endurance. The songs kept getting longer and longer, the same four chords in unison for five minutes. Everyone was still psyched anyway – this is pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

Things started getting a little weird when Jones whipped out the keytar and Homme mounted Grohl’s drum set, and the rest is a drawn-out blur of mashing and thrusting, the climax finally coming a little before eleven with one last fifteen-minute song, where Homme played the keys with his feet.

The whole thing started to feel like Lord Of The Rings: Return of the King, one false finale after another. I’m sure the hardcore fans and nostalgia seekers up front were hanging on every second, but the trickle toward the exit had started forty-five minutes earlier. There are only so many times you can say “That’s John Paul fucking Jones,” to your buddy before the magic wears off.

Critic’s Notebook:
Personal Bias:
I think Them Crooked Vultures is a lot of fun in moderation, but it’s sort of like rooting for the Yankees: old all-stars swinging for the fences every at-bat.
Random Detail: I was subjected to the most thorough frisking of my life getting into this show – at one point the security guard had an index finger inside my shoe.
By The Way: We got a chance to gauge just which Crooked Vulture drew the most fans when Homme introduced everyone one by one. In order of longest cheer to shortest: John Paul Jones (by a mile), Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Alain Johannes.

By Kiernan Maletsky from Denver Westword Blogs

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