Email This Post Email This Post
Home » John Paul Jones, Tour Watch

Them Crooked Vultures, The Roseland, New York, NYC

8 February 2010 8,840 views No Comment

Them Crooked Vultures, new supergroup, rocks Roseland Ballroom

Review by Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger


Pictures by William Perlman and Dino Perrucci

No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
Dead End Friends
Scumbag Blues
Highway 1
New Fang
Mind Eraser, No Chaser
Interlude with Ludes
Spinning In Daffodils
Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up


NEW YORK — A funny thing happened on the way to the Led Zeppelin reunion tour.

The three living members of this all-time great rock band — singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones — got together for a well-received reunion concert in London, in late 2007. This led to widespread speculation that a full-blown tour, or at least some more shows, might be coming.

It hasn’t happened yet, though all three musicians have undertaken adventurous projects since then. Plant and bluegrass queen Alison Krauss toured together with a rootsy show. Page shared riffs and stories with the Edge and Jack White in the documentary, “It Might Get Loud.” And Jones, 64, has recorded and toured with a new, intergenerational supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, also featuring Dave Grohl, 41 (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters) on drums and Josh Homme, 36 (of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal) on lead vocals and guitar.

The group performed on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, and stuck around the city to present an energetic and dauntingly loud concert at the Roseland Ballroom, Monday. No other area concerts are currently planned, but since all three musicians have expressed a desire to record another album soon and get it out by the end of the year, it’s pretty certain that they will be back before long.

Monday’s setlist was pretty basic: all 13 songs from the group’s self-titled album, which came out in November, plus the unrecorded “Highway One,” whose spacey psychedelic-rock sound represented a break from the tense, snarling quality of most of the other music. Guitarist Alain Johannes, who turns the trio into a quartet on tour, contributed a virtuosic solo instrumental at one point. (He also switched to bass, occasionally, freeing Jones up to play keyboards and mandolin.)

Album tracks were typically elongated with extended intros or outros, and two songs, “Scumbag Blues” and “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up,” were turned into epic jams, with exploratory passages and explosive raveups.

Them Crooked Vultures represents not just Jones’ high-profile return to the world of hard-rock, but a rare opportunity for Grohl to concentrate on drums. That’s what he did in Nirvana, of course, though in the Foo Fighters he is primarily the lead vocalist and guitarist.

Not surprisingly, Them Crooked Vultures’ music is largely about rhythm: nearly every song was built on a complex riff. The band played a grinding brand of funk on songs like “New Fang,” “Elephants” and “Spinning In Daffodils” (which ended with a calm, atmospheric Jones piano solo), “Warsaw” built to a pummelling finale, and “Dead End Friends” had a breathless momentum that was reminiscent of the fastest songs in the Foo Fighters repertoire.

If there was a weak link in this group, it was Homme. He sang in a commanding growl (or, occasionally, a smooth falsetto), and his muscular guitar riffs added to the group’s visceral impact. But he lacked the larger-than-life charisma of a Robert Plant or a Kurt Cobain, and his lyrics were sometimes as clumsy as the rhythm section was sharp. Lines such as “Innocence has no resistance/Against a wicked counselor such as I” and “Sycophancy, solipsistic/Spider plays the fool to lure the fly” (both from “Scumbag Blues”) should never have made it out of the studio without rewriting.

Homme is the frontman in this band. But even his biggest fans would have to admit he’s not the focal point. Still, with all that Them Crooked Vultures has to offer, that’s a minor problem.

Any supergroup with Jones and Grohl in it is going to be pretty super.



Rock’s scavenges Straight-ahead music from Crooked Vultures

 Review by Dan Aquilante


We’ve all heard how rock ’n’ roll is dead, but supergroup Them Crooked Vultures is living large on the carcass.

The group features Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme on guitar, Foo Fighter/Nirvana principal Dave Grohl on drums and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass and keyboards; and if you listen closely to their heavy, headbanging sound, you hear elements of all these bands in the Vulture music.

It doesn’t take long to figure that Grohl is the center of this group. He’s arguably one of the best drummers in rock and seems to have gotten even better since the days he anchored Nirvana’s rhythms. At Roseland, over the course of this 90-minute concert, he was an animal at the drum kit. In a word, his performance was incredible. With sweat-drenched, long hair flailing to the beat and his dark beard hiding any expression except for his gritted white teeth — you couldn’t help but picture him as a brutish caveman who had a primal need to pick up sticks and whack a log.

Although Homme is from the Stone Age, his guitar playing was more delicate than usual and his vocals emphasized singing rather than metal shouts and grunts.

 And Jones was the consummate bandmate. There was precision in all of his bottom riffs, whether he thumped a standard four-string instrument or noodled on an ungainly eight-string model. For such an iconic figure in rock, his performance was devoid of ego. Grohl seemed in awe of Jones, giving him total respect and devotion through the event; Homme on the other hand was more relaxed in their relationship. At one point he questioning Jones asking him “Hey Zeppelin, what’s that?”.                     

The set was heavy start to finish so it didn’t feel that momentum was building with each song. The band did hit a couple of noticeable high points, including the heady, layered “Daffodils,” and during the blues-rocker “Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I” the boys really got their Led out.




Them Crooked Vultures Live At Roseland Ballroom New York, NY

Review by Ryan Dembinsky

Them Crooked Vultures Live at The Wiltern 


Despite being a supergroup comprised of rock royalty best known from the southern California desert, the United Kingdom, and Seattle, when Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) took to the Roseland Ballroom with Them Crooked Vultures on Monday night, it felt decidedly New York City. To be clear, we’re not just talking about a skinny Jim Carroll nodding off in a booth at Max’s Kansas City or a Lester Bangs taking stealth pulls of Romilar at CBGBs. Rather, we’re talking about that weird mix of wise-beyond-their-years high school kids, ultimate fighting champions with razor sharp facial hair, unstoppable hipsters, and the occasional girl that congeal together to form the unmistakable smell of Slim Jims – that kind of New York City.

Both band and fans alike shook off their Super Bowl hangovers, including Grohl, who according to frontman Josh Homme “drank Jägermeister until 5:30 in the morning. He’s such an alcoholic,” and still rattled the very foundation of the always-overcrowded ballroom.

From the get-go, the Vultures played one jam-heavy rager after another, hardly letting up long enough for inhabitants of the stuffed sausage floor to catch a breath or grab a drink to cool down from the visceral hot mustard being liberally applied. The band kicked it off right, as the evening’s second tune, “Scumbag Blues” – the best cut in their catalog – reached epic proportions with John Paul Jones showing his most dexterous bass work and quickly putting to rest any potential complaints that we’re reviewing just another indie band here at JamBase. All night, in fact, the band could have easily been classified as a jam band if only they weren’t so jaw-droppingly loud and heavy.

Beyond “Scumbag,” the band essentially tackled its entire catalog, which comes as no surprise as said catalog encompasses only one album, though they did perform the unreleased tune “Highway One,” which serves in part as a slight oasis from the pulsating loudness and a vehicle for Jones to morph an effected mandolin bluegrass run into a slick rock riff. Other highlights included the giant climax of “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up” and Homme’s Zep-esque blazing lead riff on “Elephants.”

Make no mistake, Grohl and Jones hold the star power, but Homme serves as the frontman. And while some criticize Homme for not stacking up to the likes of JPJ or Grohl, Homme’s strait-laced, square appearance and whimsical personality serve only to focus the attention on the music. Of course, his vocals do not resonate anywhere close to the likes of a Robert Plant or a Kurt Cobain, but his searing guitar work does and he makes for a charismatic bandleader.

Homme joked amicably before going into “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” that when the band played Saturday Night Live two days prior, in classic rock fashion, he slipped in three expletives without the censors even noticing before highlighting, “This one’s a song about being tricked.” Homme continued to incorporate good comedy throughout the evening.

As for Grohl, it’s almost worth the price of a ticket just to witness one of the most passionate drummers in the business at work. There’s something about seeing that trademark breakneck hair flipping in person that feels like a must in every diehard music fan’s concert scrapbook. Furthermore, you really can’t get the full sense on a record of his uncanny ability to lead a jam from “meander” to “climax” by pounding at the same fill, adding extra hits when needed and working a pair of cymbals the size of an elliptical orbit, without seeing him in the thick of it.

Guitarist Alain (Eleven and a Desert Sessions veteran), who turns the touring band into a quartet, serves sixth-man duties so-to-speak, adding largely rhythm guitar and trading subdued licks and solos with Homme, but he also adds a more notable dimension at times. In particular, the band flourishes when he steps to the Clavinet and takes the band away from thrashing and into the heavy funk, again most successfully on “Scumbag Blues.” He also showed off his desert rock chops when the three members proper left the stage, giving Johannes the spotlight for a unique guitar solo perfectly suited for a Joshua Tree walkabout.

Last but not least, JPJ really shines in this band, not only on bass but also on keys, mandolin, keytar and a crazy ass custom made bass slide. What’s particularly compelling about Jones in this mix is how he consistently steals the show, effortlessly and without the spotlight as he works with Grohl to build a thundering rhythm section. At other times, he’ll stealthily blaze through virtuoso chops on any one of his instruments, where you almost forget to notice him, until you do.

Finally, the lights made a subdued, but notable contribution. A backdrop of white diamonds provided a base setting, but the use of shadows and darkness set the tone. At times, the lighting director projected huge silhouettes of the musicians on the walls to each side of the stage; a nice alternative to the excessive lasers used by most lighting directors these days.

Given the nature of the beast, it’d be easy to size up Them Crooked Vultures for what they are not, namely Led Zeppelin or Nirvana, but that would be slighting. Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones exhibit honest to goodness chemistry – like Bangs and his cough syrup, NYC and its melting pot – this band is its own thing. Against the odds of a Monday night show on the day after the Super Bowl, Them Crooked Vultures put on a rock clinic and New York City took notes.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.