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today20 November, 2023

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Josh Homme admits he wasn’t feeling very well today, apologising for bitching and moaning backstage, calling to mind the delightfully crabby spirit of his beloved late, great ex-bandmate, Mark Lanegan.

But tonight’s Queens Of The Stone Age audience are so fired up, if he’d thrown an emotional sickie there would’ve been a full blown riot. Weegie style. Disaster averted, he drinks in the unhinged reaction of 14,000 “wild mother f*ckers” to the band’s savage opening rampage of belters, and wonders how he could’ve been such an asshole.

Although we’d settle for QOTSA any night of the week in Glasgow, Saturday night feels extra special for the one Scottish date of The End Is Nero tour, and there’s no holding back as the band launch into a brutal onslaught of favourites No One Knows and The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret. But there’s no let up yet as Smooth Sailing struts its way across the stage, and at this moment in time it feels like we’re witnessing the greatest show on earth, the number dripping with so much sleazy swagger, it could get done for indecent exposure. Time to cool things down? Na, not a chance, as the blistering glory of another …Like Clockwork classic roars out over the arena, My God Is The Sun causing a surge towards the churning moshpit. Finally some respite comes in the form of Emotion Sickness, first release from latest album In Times New Roman, offering up some melodic harmonies amongst its corruptive, gutsy guitar grooves.

There’s a lad in the audience sitting on his dad’s shoulders. Homme hones in on him, those eyebrows in full action as announces “that’s my boy” in his Californian desert drawl, while telling the boy’s dad that they’ve saved each other’s lives. And that’s pretty much how he feels about his music – it’s saved him, time and time again. On the face of it, nothing’s really changed, the band as raw and raucous as ever, but take a peek below the surface and almost everything is different, Homme reemerging this year after coming eye to eye with his own mortality on the back of a chain of events including the loss of several friends, a health scare and turbulent relationship breakdown. Reluctantly opening himself up to the creative process again, In Times New Roman proved to be the cathartic release he needed to get to the other side, lyrical messages running deeper than ever, broaching acceptance like never before. Of course, many in the audience can resonate with this, especially those who’ve been by QOTSA’s side for the best part of the band’s 27 years. As our own clocks tick, he reminds us that this moment won’t last forever, so let’s enjoy Saturday night…and he certainly makes sure we do just that!

When I first saw QOTSA play, I was competently unaware of how the 6ft 4 vocalist/guitarist’s presence would consume me. It’s not just his magnificent stature, but that menacing charm he radiates and the incredible ease with which he produces the most deliciously sordid riffs. Yep, I’m more than ready to be swept off my feet again tonight, but the Ovo Hydro is heaving and every last member of the crowd seems to be taller than me, big sweaty backs enveloping my every move and obstructing all but the odd glimpse of the band…thank feck for the big screens. Thankfully, there’s no one blocking my ears as the band, complete with the much-revered Troy Van Leeuwen, Dean Fertita, Jon Theodore and Michael Shuman batter out murky, sultry waves of primal rock. Mind you, I’m still considering donning a Marge Simpson wig for all future gigs (short arses can block your view too, big ‘uns). 

Pic: Calum Mackintosh

Dipping deep into their back catalogue, we feast on the eerie phenomenon of 2000’s Better Living Through Chemistry as well as a couple more new tracks, and I think it’s fair to say the set list doesn’t disappoint though Homme decides to abandon it for a bit as he asks us what we’d like them to play next. The crowd fight it out to be heard, the biggest mouths fancying a touch of Burn The Witch, off 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze and later, searing new track Paper Machete. They finish the main set with an Era Vulgaris double, slinking through Make It Wit Chu and Little Sister, bassist Shuman’s rockin’ pufferfish impersonations priceless as his head almost spirals off into the crowd.

The encore kicks off with the fuzzed out fury of In Times New Roman’s opening track Obscenery, introduced by Homme as “Purple Burglar Alarm” which he pronounces very poorly, if I’m being perfectly honest. But it’s the squalid, low slung drones of an extended God Is In The Radio that take things up a level, Homme instructing us to live hard, love hard and all that sort of thing along with telling the man to “go f*ck himself”, like his friend Lanegan did, the original vocalist of this 2002 track from the acclaimed Songs For The Deaf. With no let up in intensity, they launch into a frenzied assault of Go With The Flow, Homme puffing away on a cigarette, too cool (and old) for school, as he strolls the stage before closing with another brooding masterpiece, also originally sung by Dark Mark himself. A Song For The Deaf. Figures…

Drenched in sweat and (hopefully) beer, pretty much everyone leaves the Hydro a little astounded, a little star struck and completely aware that they’ve just experienced something pretty darned special. Just wish I could’ve seen a bit less back and a bit more band. If I had a tail…

Words: Shirley Mack @musingsbymarie
Pictures: Calum Mackintosh@ayecandyphotpgraphy

Written by: NOW Radio