GIG REVIEW: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, ECCA VANDAL (Hordern Pavilion, July 2017)
BANDS: Queens of the Stone Age, Ecca Vandal VENUE: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney DATE: 19th July, 2017
The merch is pumping, the beers are flowing, and for some reason I'm forced to relinquish 2 x packs of chewing gum at security - yes, it's the hotly anticipated headline whirlwind (or Splendour sideshow for those not traipsing up to Byron this weekend) for everyone's favourite grunge gods Queens of the Stone Age. Fresh from rocking out in Darwin, QOTSA are ripping through the country and tonight it's Sydney's turn, complete with a stomping support from enigmatic Melbournite Ecca Vandal.
This little run of Queens of the Stone Age shows marks some massive milestones for the diehard fans of these heavy hitters - not only is it the first time the quintet have graced Aussie shores since 2014, there's also the promise of a tantalising sneak peek at some of the new material from the band's upcoming album 'Villains'. And sure enough, as the band slinks onstage, the sold-out crowd at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion collectively lose their minds before being treated to a blasting set packed full of beloved classics, fresh newbies and everything in between.
Frontman Josh Homme is in fine form with his snarling vocals and biting banter, but the entire band have come to charm the pants and ears off Sydney with their driving riffs, commanding chemistry and more swagger than a Beyonce music vid (particularly on sultry faves like 'Smooth Sailing' and 'Make It Wit Chu'). The entire set is a dream with the old faithfuls getting a run (including 'Go With The Flow' and encore 'Song For The Dead'), as well as the usual big hitters (including 'No One Knows, 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer', and an epic rendition of 'Little Sister' that evolved into a free-for-all guitar fest).
While some may feel hard done by for not having more new tracks to film on their phones and never watch again, the little glimmers of new music ('The Way You Used To Do', 'The Evil Has Landed') brings a jolt of energy to the stage. And while no one has ever accused QOTSA of being boring, there's a huge air of renewal right across the board tonight; Josh is equal parts gritty and charming, guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen is elegantly electric and wins "most dapper on stage", bassist Michael Shuman nearly brings the house down with his pounding licks and ferocious pouts, keys/guitarist Dean Fertita is so multi-talented he could probably still play flawlessly while underwater and blindfolded, and workhorse drummer Jon Theodore nearly explodes into a parallel universe keeping the beat.
The final notes of 'Song For The Dead' blare out across the crowd and the room becomes an obstacle course of crushed tinnies and abandoned clothing - and what better way to walk away from a night of witnessing a band truly riding at the top of their game.
The new Queens of the Stone Age album 'Villains' is out on 25th August through Matador Records, for more info head to the band's website here.
BY TIANA SPETER