Queens are kings at the Jubilee
By Vinciane de Pape
All too often, Calgary music fans are given the great disservice of experiencing a band’s half-hearted, lackluster performance. Unfortunately, sitting between the east and west coasts means that we’re usually seen as a stop-over – a short lull before moving on to bigger, better music scenes in other Canadian cities. Not the case with Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA). Following a trip through Europe, the band tacked on eight west coast gigs to their tour, closing out with a sold-out show at the Jubilee with Calgary as their final stop. The tour commemorates the reissue of their expanded, remastered 1998 self-titled debut album.
Queens of the Stone Age have graced Calgary a handful of times within the past decade, but never have local fans been given the rare opportunity of seeing the band in such an intimate setting. The Jubilee boasts some of the city’s best acoustics; fitting for a band whose music is arguably best experienced live. QOTSA kicked off their set with a bang, playing the full breadth of their discography, including their first self-titled album in its entirety. Within the first half-hour of the show it was made evident that Queens are a well-seasoned group who have mastered the art of the set list. Their choice of songs reflects the same, well-thought out ebb and flow of their studio albums – QOTSA know when to slow it down, with melodic songs like “If Only”, picking it back up again with hard-hitting tracks like “3’s and 7’s”. Teasing the audience mid-set with a brief intermission, the band clocked in nearly two hours of play time on stage, even indulging audience requests – a rare occurrence outside the world of local cover bands.
What is remarkable about QOTSA’s live shows is the clarity of their sound – any Queens fan will tell you they sound incredible in concert. The fact that their keyboards, synths, and subtle percussion, like maracas, don’t get lost in the thrashing of guitars is certainly a testament to this. Balancing the band’s heavy sound are front man Josh Homme’s melodic vocals – they’re just as smooth as his cool, restrained demeanor. Hardly breaking his calm composure through even the most frenetic guitar solos, Homme’s stage presence is mesmerizing. The man just oozes cool, blowing smoke rings at the audience and pausing between songs to flirt with female concert-goers. Despite playing an enthusiastic show musically, Homme’s interactions with the audience, however, felt a little rehearsed. We’d like to believe that rock stars love our city as much as they say they do, but somehow it still comes off as disingenuous.
Leaving their more radio-friendly songs for the end of the show, Queens of the Stone Age made sure to include a rendition of “Little Sister” with more than enough cow bell to satisfy even Christopher Walken. The band closed out their stellar performance with “No One Knows”, fully delivering on high expectations and leaving Calgary feeling wholly fulfilled. Can’t wait till they come back? Me neither.