#BGReviewer: Queens of the Stone Age

May 25, 2018

Quick show of (figurative) hands: Whomst among you would think, after nearly a year on the road promoting seventh studio album Villains, that Queens of the Stone Age would take it easy on a beautifully warm Thursday night in London, Ontario?

If you answered anything but “hell no”, you’re probably not much of a QotSA fan. You’d also be dead wrong, as for two solid hours Josh Homme and his desert-dwelling bandmates assaulted us sonically to the point where charges probably should have been laid.

Before I proceed any further, sincerest thanks to Budweiser Gardens and Spectra Venue Management for the opportunity to review this fantastic show. Things weren’t looking very good for awhile driving in from the Big Smoke of Toronto, as at 7 in the evening the 403 West was still bumper-to-bumper. But the power of rock and roll, along with a bit of a heavy foot on the gas once the highway cleared up allowed your fearless #BGreviewer to reach his destination just in time to see Royal Blood pound out “Figure It Out” and “Out of the Black” from their thunderous debut album.

Once the scheduled headline time of 9:15 hit, Queens came out (ahem!) …like clockwork and demonstrated how you REALLY put the proverbial to the metal, motoring through a 22-song set that had Londonites young, old, male, female, black and white headbanging vigorously, air guitaring along with Homme and throwing up devil’s horns like there was no tomorrow. Having seen the Toronto stop on the Villains tour eight months ago (at the similarly-named Budweiser Stage), I definitely wasn’t expecting to be as surprised as I ended up being over the song selections.

There were the usual suspects listeners of FM96 would be very familiar with such as “No One Knows”, “Little Sister” and “The Way You Used to Do”, but I particularly loved the deep cuts peppered throughout – Didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to hear “A Song for the Deaf”, “I Never Came” or “In My Head” live, so thanks to QotSA for mixing things up. A dream setlist for me, essentially. Thanks again to Budwesier Gardens, who obviously created a welcoming environment for the band. There was no pulling the plug after an hour and a half like the band inexplicably did two nights earlier. They didn’t seem to mind them going past the usual 11 PM curfew, much less smoking in a public place! Their towering frontman expressed his love with “London together, forever” as well as what I deemed a ‘Homme Homily’ about how it’s OK for us to want to be left alone as individuals with our own thoughts and opinions, while being as one in a communal environment at the same time.

Sharply-dressed rhythm sectionists Troy Van Leeuwen and Michael Shuman were in playful spirits, seemingly seeing which of them would be the first to topple one of the many flexible vertical light stands. About the only person on stage who didn’t get in on the action was Jon Theodore, who was simply too busy being one of the most savage drummers on the planet.

And I got tell you London, this was one time I was glad I wasn’t on the floor, as you had a pretty rowdy mosh pit going all night. Your arena has a great sound system for concerts, especially compared to the less-than-stellar Air Canada Centre. Oh, and the Maple Leafs should have never let Mark Hunter get away. Go. Knights!

#BGReviewer: Gilles LeBlanc, AKA @ROCKthusiast

Photography: Bill Woodcock

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