Them Crooked Vultures’ show at Club Nokia last Wednesday was more than a warm-up gig for their main stage slot at Coachella on Friday. It was a full-on rock super group blowout bonanza. If you are a fool or just haven’t been paying attention, TCV is comprised of Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) on vocals/guitar, Dave Grohl (duh) on drums and John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin) on bass. I reviewed their debut record back when it was released, and it was one of my highlights of 2009. Yes, I’m an admitted Dave Grohl fanboy, but that didn’t cloud my judgment. TCV’s album is just as gritty, dirty, and sexy as it should have been, and the music was crafted with such precision it could only have come from the A-list guys making it all happen.
They rocked the sold-out Club Nokia crowd through every song on their album except Reptiles. Opening with Elephant, the seven-minute beast of a song that changes tempos and beats repeatedly, the thunderous sound and flashy lights omitted from the stage was something to see. Prior to the Nokia gig I had only seen TCV at Jimmy Kimmel earlier that week, so seeing their full live show was great. It has also always been a goal of mine to witness Dave smashing the shit out of a drum set, and up until this week I had only seen him play drums at Foo Fighters gigs during the song Cold Day in the Sun, which Taylor Hawkins sings. Seeing him beat the skins for nearly two hours was a treat.
TCV even played two of their non-album tracks, Highway One and You Can’t Possibly Begin to Imagine, and while I wasn’t familiar with the tunes, they were pretty badass. I hope they either release them sometime or if they haven’t yet, record them for the follow-up album.
I had expected the show to be about an hour and twenty minutes or so, but it went on nearly two hours. I figured there would be some jamming and instrumental experimentation, but not to the level that they took things. John Paul Jones went from bass to sitar (or some other similar instrument), keyboard, key-tar, and other goodies, demonstrating that he still has a lot of musical life in him. In particular, I was amazed at how young JPJ looked for a 64-year old. Those guys in the Who and the Rolling Stones look like decrepit skeletons who can barely move compared to him. He really holds his own onstage, and fits in really well with Homme, Grohl and additional guitarist Alain Johannes. It’s not a case of the old rock star hanging out with young bucks, instead it’s more like three seasoned veterans doing what they do best for the love of their craft.
Anyone in attendance really couldn’t have asked for anything more; the band played 12 of the 13 tracks on its only record, AND dipped into the b-sides for some extra fun. The entire time, Josh was as eccentric as ever, dancing around and taking swigs now and then from what looked like a bottle of vodka or some other such booze. By the time they played Interlude with Ludes, Josh wandered over to JPJ’s side of the stage and stood atop his keyboard bench, drifting in the air along to the woozy, spaced-out weirdness of that tune. At one point Homme said “there comes a time when we reach the last song. Anybody here gonna see us at Coachella?” A few people yelled, to which Homme replied “well fuck you, this song’s for everyone else.” It was amusing.
They closed the set with two of their strongest and most experimental tracks, Spinning in Daffodils and Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up (which happens to be one of my two favorite TCV tracks, alongside Gunman). By the time they were finished, I was tired. It’s rough getting rocked so hard by musicians with such incredible precision and chemistry. Usually super groups are silly and only last a short period of time, but TCV is built for the long-run. As long as they find time to set aside from their day jobs, Homme and Grohl should be able to continue melting faces with TCV. John Paul Jones doesn’t have to worry about any impending Zeppelin reunions thanks to Robert Plant’s affinity for adult-contemporary coffee shop music, so he’s probably down for a little bit longer as well. Considering that TCV is in the process of writing stuff for a second album, I can speak on behalf of rock fans everywhere when I say: YES, PLEASE.
The night's set list: