Review: Them Crooked Vultures at Vector Arena

By Scott Kara

The Crooked Vultures. Photo / Supplied
The Crooked Vultures. Photo / Supplied

Dave Grohl said recently that his time spent drumming in American rock band Queens of the Stone Age in 2002 was like being in the "coolest gang".

With Them Crooked Vultures - a super group made up of the former Nirvana drummer and head Foo Fighter, Queens main man Josh Homme, and Led Zeppelin multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones - he has stepped up into a legendary gang.

Even though they range in age from young buck Homme at 36, through to Jones who is 64, there's still a healthy dose of teen spirit in all of them.

Their Auckland show is the last on this leg of their world tour and they run through the whole of the self-titled debut album in a 90-minute-plus set.

Jones looks like he's loving it, with a constant smile on his face he keeps up a soulful and pummelling bass throughout.

Homme's voice moves from crisp and dulcet falsetto on Scumbag Blues to a more dour and harrowing tone on the low-slung and agitating Spinning In Daffodils. And he might be the least well known of the three stars but Homme is a cocky and cool front man with guitar licks to match.

Grohl is a lucid animal on the drums, with boundless energy and precision hitting.

Also part of the touring line up is sometime Queens of the Stone Age recruit Alain Johannes on guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals.

While there are elements of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and Foo Fighters, the sort of rock'n'roll TCVs play leans more towards the weird and grunty psychedelia of Queens of the Stone Age than anything else.

It's beautiful and heavy, with more than a few dance numbers like New Fang, Dead End Friends, and the rampant and rowdy Mind Eraser, No Chaser thrown in.

Then there's the romantic shuffle of Bandoliers, which Homme dedicates to the ladies; Elephants moves from something frantic, into a powerful lumbering thud, and then becomes sweet and serene; and the wah wah groove of Gunman, a kind of desert boogie crossed with Led Zeppelin doing funk, is the first crowd bounce along - and TCV's own feel good hit of summer.

The only song they lose their way on - which is saying something considering these songs morphed endlessly, often sounding better than they do on the album - is the run-of-the-mill rumble of Reptiles.

Final track Warsaw Or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up stretches out over 10 minutes and ends with another bout of thumping heaviness.

There were those who were wishing for some added extras, like QOTSA's No One Knows, or even something by Led Zep'. But as Homme says: "This is all the songs we know. We're not a covers band."

These rock legends are just out to have some fun - and play beautifully sprawling, twisted and dissonant dance rock tunes while they're at it.

- NZ Herald

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