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Hammersmith Apollo, London 17 December 2009
So, what do
you get when you cross a Foo, a Zep and Stone Age Queen ? A beautiful
noise that's for sure; and one that doesn't simply pick at the carcass
of their former bands.
Ever since I
heard about the unholy alliance between messieurs Grohl, Homme and Jones
earlier last year, I was looking forward to the catching some Crooked
action and riding the Queen's Stairway to Foovana.
that their debut CD is at times a challenging listen, with
psycho-dramatic blues style winning out over song substance and hooky
bits. Expectations had certainly been set sky-high, when this decidedly
unholy alliance was first announced.
many seemed to be expecting an amalgam of 40% Foo; 35% Zep and 25% QOTSA
and were disappointed at the absence of Grohl stadium choruses or
Zeppelin whimsical mysticism.
and why baffles me, the tall ginger one was always going to constitute
up to 50% of the equation, given that he both sings and plays guitar in
what is essentially a power trio.
For me, it's
the best thing that Josh Homme has put his name to for a long-time. And
how about that rhythm section ? With both nights at Hammersmith
completely sold-out, I was just happy to have secured the right of
admission, even if our seats were probably closer to Shepherds Bush.
the sound and vision upstairs is generally better than most of the
larger venues. What I wasn't prepared for was the volume and clarity
from our vantage point; I guess it must've been pretty brutal down at
with only a debut album under their wings and a determination not to
revisit the past, it was less a case of what would they play, and more
what in what order?
With a beady
eye already looking towards that 'difficult' second album, a solitary
'new' song 'Highway One' was also aired, proving that there's life in
this old bird, still. For those listening with open ears, yes there were
nods to the collective musical legacy of the band; the insistent Zeppish
rhythm of 'Elephant', the Creamy psyche of 'Scumbag Blues', the Stone
Age angst of 'Dead-end Friends' and heavy Foo hooks of 'Mind Eraser'.
still, during the final third, things got lithe and loose with JPJ
driving the jackhammer that is 'Caligulove' playing double-duty
heavy-duty bass pedals and organ; Dave doing his best Animal impression
on 'Daffodils' and Josh slipping in some slide on the sublime
'Reptiles'. The sound was immaculate, the vibe immense and the
Jones-Grohl bottom-end mightily bootylicious.
provides the face and Jones the heart, for me it's Grohl that proved
that he is real soul of the band - based on his brilliantly powerful and
percussive performance. Nice BVs too.
The band may
be crooked by name and avian by nature, but there was nothing flighty
about this gig. With a second album almost a certainty, it's clear that
this is a labour of love and not dictated by commercial concerns. It'll
be ready, when it's ready. I, for one, will wait patiently until it is.
onboard and enjoy the flight of the Vultures; that is until they
remember that they have day-jobs and you'll be kicking yourself that you
One Loves Me & Neither Do I Dead End Friends Scumbag Blues Elephants
Highway One New Fang Gunman Bandoliers Mind Eraser, No Chaser Caligulove
Interlude with Ludes Spinning in Daffodils Reptiles Warsaw or the First
Breath You Take After You Give Up
photo by Andy Rawll
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