QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE @ RED ROCKS | 8/15/13 Drawing liberally from a broad range of its catalog, Queens of the Stone Age planned its Red Rocks set out especially well last night. Everything rolled forward with ample momentum, but the band and the crowd both had plenty time to breathe. The song choices, some of which had minor changes in the delivery, were perfectly complimented by the visuals, as columns of light danced across the stage and projected into the crowd and shot though the fetching nighttime sky.
Homme tackled the songs with confidence and power. His masterful turn of "Burn the Witch" was particularly captivating. The lush "The Vampyre of Time and Memory," meanwhile, had an early '70s R&B sensibility to it, which was fitting as much of Homme's vocals carried a soulful edge, and his signature falsetto was so finely controlled and vibrant that it notably enriched the sound of each song. This might seem simple, but it's difficult to make sound right, much less compelling.
During "If I Had a Tail," the projection looked like an animated short from an updated Heavy Metal: The Motion Picture with a Mad Max-esque visual plot. "Smooth Sailing" followed and inspired the crowd to sing and dance along enthusiastically into the main set's closing number, "Go With the Flow."
Homme and company didn't make us wait too long for the encore. When the Queens frontman returned to the stage, he said, "I wish you could see what we see," he marveled. "I don't have the words." After a beat, he added, "I do have the goddamn tequila." Then the familiar opening, "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," more than it lived up to its name with virtually everyone helping out with the chorus. That was followed by the psychedelically tinged R&B of "I Sat By The Ocean."
Before playing the final song, Homme said, "This might be the best song we've got right here. I'm proud to play it for you tonight." Naturally, the tune that followed was "A Song For the Dead" from Songs For the Deaf. An endless flood of abstracted flying creatures like small birds came flooding forth on the screen, first in black on white and then white on black.
As the sounds wound down, Homme saluted the crowd with horns and said, "Even hippies worship Satan, you know what I mean?" After that, he laughed and the music came flooding back in and the electricity of the band faded out as the guys left the stage with a heartfelt thank you from Homme.
Keep reading for more on Gogol Bordello, plus Setlist and Critic's Notebook
Earlier in the evening, Gogol Bordello didn't skimp on the prodigious, exuberant and aggressive energy that characterizes all of its shows. The band's "gypsy punk" mixture borrows from various folk music traditions, from that gypsy sound to Russian folk, American and even the Celtic. Even though the rough edges of the band's early days are gone now, the performance still came off raw and vital, with everyone on stage playing like they were still feeling the same fire that fueled the act in the early days.
While the music felt very similar to the sort of stuff Gogol was playing when it toured places like the 15th St. Tavern, the outfit has since taken that musical core and expanded its palette considerably. Playing lively songs like "Start Wearing Purple," "Break the Spell," and closing with "Undestructable," Bordello set the stage well for the dynamic Queens that followed.
Queens of the Stone Age Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, Colorado 8/15/13
01. Keep Your Eyes Peeled 02. You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire 03. No One Knows 04. My God is the Sun 05. Monsters in the Parasol 06. Burn the Witch 07. Long Slow Goodbye 08. In the Fade 09. The Vampyre of Time and Memory 10. Kalopsia 11. If I Had a Tail 12. Little Sister 13. Better Living Through Chemistry 14. Make It Wit Chu 15. Sick, Sick, Sick 16. Smooth Sailing 17. Go With the Flow
ENCORE 18. Feel Good Hit of the Summer 19. I Sat By the Ocean 20. A Song for the Dead
Personal Bias: I've been an on again off again fan of QOTSA since hearing Rated R when it came out. Random Detail: Ran into Sean Boyd from The Skivvies and concert promoter Tony Mason at the show. By the Way: Most reasonable merch prices at a Red Rocks show in years.