Them Crooked Vultures @ Brixton Academy. A small piece of rock history?
I think I may have witnessed a tiny bit of rock'n'roll history being written last night. The mother of all of today's supergroups, Them Crooked Vultures, played their unannounced UK debut supporting Arctic Monkeys at Brixton Academy on a rainy wednesday evening.
Well, "supported". When you put these guys together on stage, unless bringing back The Beatles or Iain Curtis to headline, support is not the verb. Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters (and Nirvana) played an hour-long set which epitomised rock music. It was tight, tough and technically so advanced, that even the few overly lengthy instrumental bits went down easily and with pleasure. It was prog rock and hard rock, a bit of blues and a hint of jazz. It was fun.
And it was fresh. Joining three immense musicians with backgrounds like these might result in a pompous and recycled collection of yesterday's hits, but not with TCV. It's clear that the gentlemen are driven by ambition and a passion to make good music; not by the fear of being forgotten with their current or past, perhaps somewhat tired, main bands. That's professionalism.
Nobody Loves Me And Neither Do I, Caligulove, Elephants and Gunman raised perhaps the biggest applauds. The audience was there to see Arctic Monkeys but apart from Independent's music journalist, a few mandatory chavs and other unlucky souls I don't think there was anyone who hadn't heard the rumours about the "very special guests"; the queue was massive before 7pm.
And the brightest star of the night? Dave Grohl. I'm not sure if his drum kit was screaming from pain or pleasure, probably both, but that man is a living legend. Grohl is not a drummer; a drummer is Grohl.
Rock supergroup play first UK gig
Them Crooked Vultures came on stage to ear-splitting screams
A new supergroup featuring three rock heavyweights have played their first UK gig, supporting the Arctic Monkeys.
Them Crooked Vultures features Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age.
They made a surprise appearance at Brixton Academy in London.
The Arctic Monkeys gave the first UK airing of their new material as a warm-up for their headline slots at the Reading and Leeds festivals.
Before they came on, Them Crooked Vultures appeared to ear-splitting screams and played a pounding set of new hard rock songs.
Homme was the frontman, singing and playing guitar, with Jones on bass and keyboards and Grohl on drums and backing vocals.
It was only their fifth gig, after making their debut earlier this month in Chicago and following up with shows in the Netherlands and Belgium. They are also expected to release an album.
Homme co-produced the Arctics Monkeys' third album Humbug and one of his bands, the Eagles of Death Metal, are to support the Sheffield group on European dates in November.
Them Crooked Vultures Join Arctic Monkeys for Surprise London Show
One of the hottest bands in the world made their London debut last night as the openers for Arctic Monkeys at the Brixton Academy. Billed cryptically as "very special guests," the secret was clearly out as a line wrapped around the block with fans eager to catch a set by new supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. At 7:50 GMT John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme casually assumed the stage as any opening band might, before rocking the theater with just under an hour of ear splitting, foot stomping, unadulterated rock.
Offering nothing more than a simple "hello" from frontman Homme, the band immediately launched into "Elephants," beginning with a Led Zep-inspired bluesy guitar riff and thumping bassline before doubling to a speed that resembled Homme and Grohl's respective outfits. The trio, who were joined by Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Alain Johannes, then broke out "Dead End Friends" and the droning hard rock "Gunman" both of which call to mind QOTSA material but with the amps turned up to 11 and Dave Grohl beating the drums within an inch of their life.
Supergroup mania: check out photos of Cream, Audioslave and more.
Homme kept crowd interaction with the 5,000 lucky fans packed inside the quaint venue to a minimum ? they were the support act after all ? saving his voice for melodic vocals on tunes like "Mind Eraser (No Chaser)." Many of the Vulture's tunes took a number of meandering turns as they progressed, shifting styles and time signatures. The fifth song, "Caligulove" was a throwback psychedelic number with John Paul Jones blaring Hammond organ sound from his keyboard.
The Vultures played with an deafening intensity that brought the Monkeys out to watch from a back corner of the stage. Their strongest tune was "Daffodils," which features a driving riff that had a whiff of Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" before Jones switched to the keys for a dreamy, classical, prog rock ending. The Vulture's then moved on to the catchy, toe tapping "New Fang" which again showcased Homme's vocals.
The one-hour set wrapped up with "Nobody Loves me, And Neither Do I," another bluesy number featuring Jones on the 12-string slide guitar, followed by an untitled eight-minute sprawling epic. The closer featured multiple mood changes, wandering from jazzy slap bass interludes with swinging drums and lounge singer vocals to raucous hard rock sections. It was more of a novelty tune than a cohesive rock anthem but still a hell of a lot of fun.
"We had a lovely time, we hope you had the same," Homme told the crowd as the band soaked up the rapturous applause before leaving the stage as casually as they had assumed it. It was an epic night in the rapidly unfolding history of perhaps the next great "supergroup," a term that in this case may be justified.
Exactly where Them Crooked Vultures will land next is anyone's guess although after appearances at three festivals in the Neatherlands and Belgium last week speculation is brewing about a possible slot at the Reading & Leeds festival. For now fans will have to keep up with the healthy rumor mill and hope they find themselves in the right place at the right time.
2. Dead End Friends
4. Mind Eraser, No Chaser
6. Spinning in Daffodils
7. New Fang
8. No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
Richard L. Dewey and Tim Marrinan
Them Crooked Vultures make UK live debut with Arctic Monkeys
Them Crooked Vultures made their UK live debut in London tonight (August 26), playing as special guests of Arctic Monkeys.
The supergroup, featuring Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme, kicked off proceedings at the O2 Academy Brixton, surprising many crowd members who had arrived at the venue early.
Taking the stage to loud applause the trio - joined by guitarist Alain Johannes - opened their heavy rock set with Homme offering a simple "Hello".
With Homme on lead vocals, the band played songs including 'Elephant', which they have posted online, and a host of new efforts.
"We're very excited to be with you tonight," Homme, who co-produced the headliners' new album 'Humbug', told the crowd. "We're a new band, we're going to play a lot of new music tonight, we hope you enjoy it!"
Moving on to 'Gunman', Homme paused midway through the song to encourage the then-full venue to make the most of the British debut.
"You can do whatever you want tonight," he declared before pointing at a bouncer. "This guy works for me, he might be smiling but I'll fire his ass. If you want to dance, dance, you're supposed to have a good time."
Following 'mind Eraser (No Chaser)', Jones switched from bass to keyboards for 'Caligula' while Grohl supplied backing vocals from behind his drum kit.
Them Crooked Vultures then dedicated 'Daffodils' to Arctic Monkeys to thank them for the slot. They ended their set with 'Nobody Loves Me And Neither Do I' - for which Jones played a sci-fi slide guitar - and an unnamed epic number to close.
"We've had a lovely time, we hope you did too," declared Homme. "See you at the party afterwards!"
Arctic Monkeys are now set play, warming up for their headlining appearance at the Reading And Leeds Festivals this weekend (August 28-30). Stay tuned to NME.COM for a full report.
Arctic Monkeys and Them Crooked Vultures: Brixton Academy
There have been some hot tickets in pop this year. But this one was radioactive. Arctic Monkeys were here to limber up for their headlining slot this weekend at the Reading Festival.
It was their first chance to perform songs (in this country) from their acclaimed new album, Humbug, which has been selling about 40,000 copies a day since it was released on Monday. As if that wasn't enough, the show was opened by Them Crooked Vultures, the new group co-starring Josh Homme, of Queens Of The Stone Age; John Paul Jones, of Led Zeppelin, and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, formerly the drummer with Nirvana.
Despite an attempt beforehand to keep this first show on British soil low-key, it was nothing of the sort. Rather like Jack White and his new group the Dead Weather, these are musicians for whom the idea of self-restraint let alone self-doubt is an alien concept. They came on like conquering superstars and were greeted as such. Jones strapped on a bass, Homme loomed over the microphone stand and Grohl initiated an all-out assault on his kit as they opened with a long, complicated, neo-progressive rock number with creamy harmonies underpinned by thunderous, heavily syncopated riffs.
Jones switched to keyboards for Caligulove, playing a romping bass line on footpedals. As they launched into the stoner rock riff of Daffodils, the sound climbed to super-threatening levels and the music new heights of heaviosity. With Grohl in particular performing the rock star-as-superhero role to perfection, this was a monster on the loose, not a support group.
It is a measure of how far Arctic Monkeys have progressed that they are now keeping such heavyweight company. Having recorded their third album in the Californian desert, with Homme in the producer's chair, they have cast off their image as provincial indie-pop chancers, and assumed a commanding air of international rock group authority. Alex Turner's songs still abound with witty wordplay and flat Northern vowel sounds. But the group from Sheffield has shed the smalltown mentality that has, in the past, limited the ambition and appeal of some British bands.
They waded in with My Propeller, the risqu? opening track from Humbug, followed by a revved-up version of Nick Cave's doomy Red Right Hand. Three shaggy heads shook at the front while strobes and smoke machines piled up the atmosphere all around. Alex Turner looked and sounded in complete control as he sang Crying Lightning, a tale of "the strange and the twisted and the deranged" in which he also constructed an elegant, twanging guitar solo.
As you would expect, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor prompted a violent surge of activity at the front, but the new songs were every bit as propulsive and in some cases more interesting. Pretty Visitors was a surreal madhouse of skittering drums and slide guitar while Dangerous Animals was driven by a romping, stomping beat garnished with odd percussive noises that reverberated with a strange, subtle menace.
The pacing went awry when, having thrown everything at the wall during the first three quarters of the show, they headed towards the end with a string of defiantly downbeat songs including the latest in a line of warped romantic ballads, Cornerstone and a frankly maudlin The Only Ones Who Know.
A little fine tuning to the set, and Reading will be theirs.
Leeds 2009 Festival, August 28;
Reading Festival, August 29