|Review by: Dotmusic staff
The art of Queens Of The Stone Age is a mastery of chaos. At their best, they hold precision and power in perfect balance. Their songs are vast, indestructible edifices chiselled from Josh Homme's taughtly funky and meticulously controlled chords. But does a sound so indebted to the art of the studio production which sharpens its razor edges translate to a cavernous old London music hall? Well, for a while here it certainly helps to know the tunes as the opening section of the show consists mostly of power pop blasts through favourites like 'Monsters In The Parasol' and the screamed opener, 'You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar...'
This is QOTSA - the punk band, all chanted "yeah yeahs", handclaps and hysterical songs that clock in under 2 minutes. For a treat they drop into this mix an abbreviated version of debut album highlight, 'You Would Know' that's pure dead-eye nonchalance. Then we move into another territory.
Verging on a contradiction of what has gone before, the sprawling, dark and ambitious songs from recent album, 'Songs For The Deaf' are punk baiting prog metal, songs that eat trifling school bands like The Vines for breakfast. A vast bleeding sky of peyote horrors, 'Sky Is Fallin' thunders throughout North London like something from the recesses of a mind you wouldn't care to visit. Mark Lanegan reprises his 'man who wasn't there' role for the similarly terrifying 'Hanging Tree' staring out into the audience without an ounce of passion for any living thing. Those electrodes that Homme and Oliveri have their old buddy wired up to seem to be just about doing the job: Lanegan rasps out the brutal metal of 'Song For The Dead' with all the finesse of an extra in a George A Romero film. Homme chops out short, brutal riffs. Drums thunder. It - Is - Immense.
By this time new boy Joey Castillo really has to put in some work to keep up with that Dave Grohl template. He goes about the job with enough force to bring the whole stage crashing after the drums. Homme is all Elvis eyes with the least macho stance ever adopted by a man playing a guitar with this degree of devastating precision. Curiously, Nick Oliveri remains fully clothed throughout.
Finally, a third QOTSA emerges for one of the most wonderful encores in recent memory, kicking things off with the live debut of Zepplinesque folk number, 'Mosquito Song'. This is QOTSA, writers of timeless songs with odd time signatures, songs that reveal a passion for everything from British folk to free jazz. This is the QOTSA that is simply an undeniably great band - far more artfully crafted and musically literate than that 'stoner rock' tag and contrived desert drughead image would ever have you believe. Between the inevitable 'Feel Good Hit Of The Summer' and closing glam stomp of 'Do It Again' we see it once more in a mesmeric, sprawling take on 'Regular John'.
For this, Homme and Oliveri close a gap that has separated them onstage all night and come together to take the track by the neck, gently slowing it down and letting it fall limp onto the stage. Then, they kick the life back into it with thrilling intent - power and precision finding their most perfect union of the night. And that seals it. Music offers few greater thrills than a band in full mastery of their art, amps on 11.