Queens of The Stone Age
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- Queens of The Stone Age »
Sometimes, gigs can be bloody depressing affairs. The King’s Hall, Belfast isn’t a proper live music venue. It’s only ever called into force when the big hitters come to town and the much more palatable Ulster Hall isn’t available (under refurbishment on this occasion). At the King’s Hall, patrons are marshalled through the doors like alt. rock cattle and greeted with what is basically, a glorified aircraft hangar. The gig is apparently sold out, but the discomfort of having no room to move suggests a slight over sell. The bar is equally patience-trying, four people deep at all times and the best you can hope for is a 250ml bottle of beer hastily poured into a plastic container giving it more head than a backstreet trick-turner… for the arse-rip-tastic price of £3 a pop, no less. Something’s gone pretty sour with our precious rock ‘n’ roll.
The cherry on top is the abundance of shirtless, and sweaty, fair-weather gig goers. The ‘once a year for the novelty’ types who turn up already pished (and who could blame them with this bar) and fall about a bit while waiting on the big radio staples. At least we’ve got the gargantuan rock beast that is Queens Of The Stone Age to lay waste to the cretinous hordes and help us forget about it all. Well, that was the hope.
Homme and crew gamely give it a go, full of more fizz and fervour than is customary, but it’s literally seconds into the set that all pre-show hopes for a monstrous, balls-out rockfest are dashed by the muddy as hell PA. The drums sound weak and distant, as if the skins have been cushioned with cotton wool and the guitars yelp where they’re supposed to growl. It’s an odd and distracting problem, but odder still is how after a few songs your ears compensate and adjust, the spaces almost subconsciously filled in mentally from familiarity with the material. Which itself presents a major problem.
At this stage in their career, Queens have so many killer tunes in their arsenal, picking a setlist that pleases everyone is always going to be difficult. Reports from the two previous nights in Dublin, however, suggest they really mix it up, playing a fair smattering of early album stuff alongside the newer songs. Not so tonight. Not even one track from the eponymous debut. Just play ‘Regular John’ and all will be forgiven, you’re thinking. Rated R _is represented by an awesome, swaying roll through _‘In The Fade’ and a typically boisterous ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ providing one of the night’s few genuine air punch and sing-along moments. But the majority of the set is comprised of the more bloated and fusty material from the last three studio albums. Among them, ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ sounds like a knockout, overcoming the PA problems and ‘Make It Wit Chu’ is gloriously swooning. You can’t shake off the feeling however that in any other venue, in this form, this would be a properly visceral and memorable experience.
As it is, though, it’s a disappointing and subdued ordeal that you feel relieved to be freed from at the end.
Photo: Lavinia Amaldi
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