They're just like us, really.
Focusing on what matters.
Supporting one another in the pursuit of ambition, or perhaps giving each other the push to follow passion.
The difference between us and them is in the performance.
They play it out on a stage, while we try our best in the anonymity of a crowd.
Last night, Brody Dalle (formerly of the Distillers and Spinnerette) joined Josh Homme, frontman of the ever-evolving Queens of the Stone Age, to play for a crowd of revved up super fans at Budweiser Gardens in my hometown of London, Ontario—where people work hard and play harder.
When we decided to find something outside of being parents, that filled us up, that helped us see one another the way we used to, that gave us time together—it was music that held the answer.
And though we don't always share the same level of appreciation for each artist we see, we do appreciate being part of the other's experience. It's been a metaphor for marriage—at least for us—to be able to let the other shine, to know that any shadow cast by that glow isn't darkness, but instead a quiet place to stand.
As the crowd of revellers found their seats and filled the floor space in front of Dalle (who has been compared to Courtney Love), she set the tone for a high energy show with her no frills brand of punk rock. She shone and then with a flirty You're gonna get your asses kicked, she slid into the shadows.
Dalle wasn't kidding. After watching roadies uncover red-clad gear and a red stage floor in keeping with the new album's artwork, the crowd was plunged into darkness as we waited for Queens of the Stone Age to begin.
A grid of brightly-lit squares illuminated the stage and provided a digital countdown from 59 seconds. It sounded like we were in a jumbo jet with the windows rolled down, and the sound made the stadium seats rumble and vibrate as though we were hurtling down a runway. No one paid attention to the stay in your seats during take-off rule though. Everyone was on their feet before the clock read zero, and that is where they stayed for the rest of the show.
The band opened with Keep Your Eyes Peeled from the new album on a smoke-filled, backlit stage that made Homme look even more formidable than his 6' 5" height makes him. Even though we were in an arena-setting, the vocals and instrumentals were crisp and as close to flawless as they could be for that kind of venue. Homme's voice (despite being under the weather) filled the space and—allow me to get all girly here for a moment—made my insides knock against my rib cage and my spine go loose like a length of rope waiting to be coiled.
Rock should be heavy enough for the boys
and sweet enough for the girls.
That way everyone's happy
and it's more of a party
~ Josh Homme (2000)
Along with long-time guitarist and percussionist, Troy Van Leeuwen, and Michael Schuman on bass guitar, Dean Fertita on keyboards and recent addition Jon Theodore on drums, the band seemed to put any ego aside and create an atmosphere that welcomed everyone to join the party.
The lighting provided an added ambiance and lent itself well to the melodic and rhythmic sounds inherent to the band and their über-talented instrumentalists. They weaved back and forth from old to new songs—though the enthusiasm of the crowd proved all of their songs are being played on repeat.
Stand out numbers and crowd-pleasers were: If I Had a Tail, Smooth Sailing, and Lost Art of Keeping a Secret, while mellow numbers like The Vampyre of Time and Memory showcased the phenomenal back up vocals of the band members, as well as Homme's versatility as a musician (he played keyboard and guitar).
With high praise for their previous albums behind them, Homme was quoted as saying it didn't affect the way he viewed their newest album—which includes high-profile collaborations from Trent Reznor, Jake Shears, Alex Turner, James Lavelle, Brody Dalle, Dave Grohl, Elton John (who told Homme he needed a real "queen" on the album) and former band drummer, Joey Castillo.
The only pressure is
(making sure that)
it won't be the same as the one before
After their encore performance of A Song For the Dead, which included a phenomenal drum solo by Theodore, JB turned to me and said,
That's the next song I'm going to teach [our 10-year-old drummer son] to play.
And so I was reminded that we're just like them, really.
Focusing only on what matters.
Our deepest gratitude to Budweiser Gardens #BGReviewer program for choosing me to review this unforgettable show.
Your venue and staff were welcoming and generous.
We look forward to coming back.