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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Queens of the Stone Age Bring Haunting New Tunes to the Agora

Posted By on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 10:35 AM

click to enlarge ERIC SANDY / SCENE
  • ERIC SANDY / SCENE

Opening the show with a ferocious throwback — "I Think I Lost My Headache" — and not letting up for the next 100 minutes, Queens of the Stone Age threw down a real heater at Cleveland's Agora last night. If you weren't already sipping your hellish Pumpkin Spice Lattes and getting ready for fall, Josh Homme's eerie desert rock spookiness certainly got you in the mood for the season of dying.

It had been years since QOTSA graced Cleveland with a tour stop, and so the hype was very real for this one. The show sold out early, and the secondary markets were buzzing up until showtime. And even with a nice crowd ogling the Tribe's attempt at No. 23 on the bar TV screens, the theater was absolutely packed to the gills with one of the most intense and excited audiences I've ever seen in this town. Opener Royal Blood, a manic riff-heavy duo out of the UK, got everyone in the zone.

I'm telling you: The crowd was awesome last night.

Once Queens stepped onto the stage, though, all bets were off. The band just dropped a new album, Villains, and you wouldn't be wrong for thinking it's one of their best. We were sure to get plenty of new tunes, and when "Feet Don't Faill Me" hit, the audience blended headbanging with disco grooving. This is where Homme and his fluctuating band have always excelled: Pure dance metal.

Throughout the show, the stage was ensconced completely in fog and haze. Homme and the guys were mere silhouettes, backlit against a slow-moving cloud of evil vibes. The lighting was a thrill too, as most of the show was cast in dark reds and mind-bending strobes.

Oddly enough, to my ears, the ...Like Clockwork material stole the show. That album sort of came and went, I thought, but songs like "If I Had a Tail" and "Smooth Sailing" were energetic and emotional in the live setting.

And, of course, plenty in the room were most jazzed for the band's calling cards — stuff like "No One Knows" and "Little Sister." The main set closed with a nice trifecta (see setlist below), but Homme had cranked the tempo up tenfold on those tunes for some reason. "No One Knows" sounded like a runaway train when it works best with a little room to breathe between bars.

The encore was an extremely well constructed trio of tunes — "The Evil Has Landed" into the more reflective "Villains of Circumstance" and the classic "A Song for the Dead." (That last one was also played super fast.) And by the time we arrived at the encore, the fog from the main set had lifted completely. The lights were a crystalline blue, almost, and we saw our rock 'n' roll hero clearly for the first time all show. It was an incredible contrast.

All in all, Cleveland landed a mighty, mighty show from one of the best rock bands on tour these days.

Setlist:

I Think I Lost My Headache
Go With the Flow
Feet Don't Fail Me
The Way You Used to Do
My God Is the Sun
Monsters in the Parasol
Domesticated Animals
Kalopsia
I Appear Missing
Head Like a Haunted House
Smooth Sailing
Un-Reborn Again
If I Had a Tail
Little Sister
You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
No One Knows

Encore:
The Evil Has Landed
Villains of Circumstance
A Song for the Dead

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