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Live Review and Photos: Queens Of The Stone Age, July 25, 2011, Fox Theater – Pomona, CA


From what I could tell, most people weren’t expecting Queens Of The Stone Age to play their entire debut album in its entirety on Monday night at the Fox Theater in Pomona. I mean, they had seemingly stopped the tour when Josh Homme vocally declared that he had already become bored with the same set every night, plus they had ceased the gimmick for some European festivals and even as recently as their previous show in Las Vegas. But, as the five-piece took the stage, Homme addressed the crowd immediately, thanking them for allowing the band to share their 13-year old record.

Not that I am complaining. On the tour’s previous two-day stop at the Wiltern in Los Angeles last April, I had been unable to attend, so I was more than willing to get this rare treat that probably won’t be coming through the Los Angeles-area again. But, my initial fear was that the band would seem “bored” and that I had missed my opportunity to see this show in all its glory. Luckily, I was wrong.

The first few numbers of the evening needed little introduction, as the band flexed their way through them, with Homme always playing it cool, bassist Michael Shuman flinging his hair around, and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen not being shy to strike up pose after pose. “If Only,” the 1998 self-titled record’s catchiest song, saw the band at their melodic peak, while “How To Handle A Rope” allowed Homme to break out his giant bottle of vodka, the cap of which he flung away to indicate that this bottle would not be closing.

Homme also used this revisitation to the old material as a chance to tell some stories behind the songs. Notably, “Hispanic Impressions” was revealed to be the result of smoking weed and listening to Jimi Hendrix, resulting in something that sounds a little similar to “Manic Depression.” You know, if you’re high. But, with the ferocity that the band blazed through the later parts of the album, including an extensive, face-melting jam to close “You Can’t Quit Me Baby,” this was not music you needed to be high to enjoy.

Rather than do a traditional set and encore, this show featured two distinct sets. The second, introduced by Homme as “the hits,” gave Queens Of The Stone Age a chance to showcase how far they have come as songwriters and musicians over the years. As good as the music from their debut is, it was still the product of a band getting better, and it is hard to argue that Rated R and Songs For The Deaf saw the band really come into its own and produce a couple of classic records.

Unfortunately, none of Rated R was played, but we did get a healthy dose of Songs For The Deaf, beginning with the album’s lead-off track and moving smoothly into “First It Giveth.” The band also played a few songs from their most recent release, the four-year old album Era Vulgaris. Both “3’s And 7’s” and “Sick, Sick, Sick” burn with the intensity of the best Queens songs, but “Make It Wit Chu,” introduced as being a song “for the ladies,” derailed some of the momentum that the band had been building. Even Homme seemed bored with the song, smoking a cigarette throughout and punctuating the tune with a between song jam session that seemed to be asking the audience for their attention back. Of course, when the closing combination of “Little Sister” and “Go With The Flow” began, the crowd was immediately back on the Queens’ side.

Setlist:

Regular John
Avon
If Only
Walkin’ on the Sidewalks
You Would Know
How to Handle a Rope
Mexicola
Hispanic Impressions
The Bronze
Give the Mule What He Wants
I Was a Teenage Hand Model
You Can’t Quit Me Baby

You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
First It Giveth
3’s & 7’s
Sick, Sick, Sick
Make It Wit Chu
Little Sister
Go With the Flow


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