Live review: Queens of the Stone Age at The Hydro, 16/11/13

qotsa2013As I enter the vast Hydro floor for the first time a giant clock counts down from 30 to arrival of tonight’s headliners.

This gives me a chance to take in my surroundings, I’ll try my best to make this a review of Queens of the Stone Age rather than one of Glasgow’s brand spanking new, top of the range arena venue, a glance up lets you see how mammoth this venue is, while looking back makes you feel slightly like your on the field of a massive football stadium as the tiers go back some way, and it’s not even open all the way to the back.

Looking at the stage it feels far away, but let’s bar judgement until the set is under way.

QotSA are promoting their latest offering, the number 2 charting …Like Clockwork, an album that has moved away from Josh Homme and co’s hard rock of previous outings, the last of which was six years ago, but it still feels vitally Homme, full of confidence and bravado and having Dave Grohl back on the sticks has only benefited its promotion.

No-one realistically expected Grohl to be here tonight and he isn’t, but QotSA is Homme’s band and he and his band tonight do more than enough to make you forget that the former Nirvana man’s presence was even an afterthought.

As a frontman Homme oozes cool with a confident, sexual presence that leaves you wanting to throw all sorts of clichés into the mix, but as the set and new album opener ‘Keep Your Eyed Peels’ begins proceedings it feels more like a warm up than anything else.

But then you’re hit with a double blast of 2002’s Songs For The Deaf that gets the crowd going and buildings things up for the occasion, the breakneck speed and sheer embodiment of hard rock is laid bare on ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire’ and then they bring in the groove with the iconic ‘No One Knows’.

With the room now in their hands Homme and co take through an section heavy with new album tracks, starting with more traditionally heavy Queens track on …Like Clockwork ‘My God Is The Sun’, nine of the album’s ten track are on show tonight, only the power ballad ‘I Appear Missing’ is axed.

This section is split with a few classics, including some reminders the Queens have been able to do the softer number well in the past in Rated R‘s solemn ‘In the Fade’ and Era Vulgaris‘ standout sexy blues track ‘Make It Wit Chu’.

Standout new tracks come back to back in the groove filled ‘If I Had a Tail’ and the Bowie tinged ‘Kalopsia’ before Homme dedicates Lullabies to Paralyse single ‘Little Sister’ to all the “sisters” in the audience in his smooth Californian tone.

The riff melody matching ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ kicks us in to a more powerful ending including the ever-popular ‘Go With the Flow’ before they retreat pre encore.

The last new track of the set, ‘The Vampyre of Time and Memory’, pulls the strings a atop new album visual and sets us nicely for a classic ending of fan favourite ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’.

First impressions of the Hydro for a full gig is that it sounds excellent, it’s certainly a huge difference from the SECC’s baron expanses, but still it can feel a lonesome, it’s simply massive and those up in the rafters will be lucky to make much out visually, even from the floor you feel quite far away.

Still, Glasgow was in much need of a new arena and as arenas go you won’t get much better than this, it looks great and sounds great, but the same criticisms will come that all massive venues get.

Tonight Queens of the Stone Age deliver a set of addictive stoner rock, switching between hard riffs and smoother material in a set balanced to perfection and providing a much needs dose of that confident showmanship that you only get from Josh Homme, and whether their next visit to Glasgow is here or elsewhere there’s no doubt it’ll be met with similar enthusiasm.

Words: Iain Dawson

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