“Gimme more guitar – a whole buttload of it,” asks Josh Homme of the soundman. And a whole buttload of guitar he – and the audience – gets. Buttloads indeed.
It’s hot – very, very hot, and Lee’s Palace is packed way beyond capacity. It’s funny, because while Iron Maiden and Rob Halford (who, coincidentally, appears on the Queens‘ latest disc, ‘R’) are across town playing the Air Canada Centre, it seems that all the nouveau-metal types are here, with sweat pouring from every pore of their pierced, tattooed, and leather-clad bodies. And with all the cleavage-boasting rocker chicks milling about, one can’t help but think it’s some sort of retro ’80s party going on.
Due to the insane temperature in the room, Homme and crew seem a little subdued. But the audience doesn’t really mind, because Christ, it’s hot. And sensing that the enthusiastic crowd is riding that titillating line between pleasure and misery, the Queens parry on, opening with the crowd pleaser ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’. Ex-Dwarves bassist Nick “Rex Everything” Oliveri offers a rousing version of ‘Quick And To The Pointless’, yet there is still no doubt that Homme is The Man here. Dripping with coolness, he even keeps the set together during a brief loss of stage power. “Sorry about that bullshit,” he casually offers, before tearing back into the set.
A few crusty codgers can be overheard talking about the golden years of Kyuss, but these fans of Homme‘s sludgy old band don’t seem disappointed. Sure, the newfangled vocal harmonies are there on Queens tracks like ‘If Only’, but Oliveri keeps the new romantics at bay with his bowel shuddering low end. Homme‘s aforementioned guitar helps too, pummelling the audience during ‘Monsters In The Parasol’. And even the most sceptical of stoner rock aficionados would be reassured by Homme‘s drug addled lyrics. ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ – perhaps the most Hawkwind-esque track on the new disc – gets stretched far into to Trippyland, with extended guitar solos for the potheads.
Conclusion: Homme and crew are still stoner rock icons. Perhaps this new wave direction is simply due to a change in drugs – something eluded to by a significantly under-dressed Oliveri upon returning for the encore. “Cocaine dick – right here baby,” he laughs, with snarl.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thank the stoner gods for that.