Wednesday, August 19, 2009

[review] Them Crooked Vultures @ Melkweg (8-19-2009)

Guest review of TCV secret show

As reported, Them Crooked Vultures performed their second live show to a small crowd in Amsterdam. Guest writer / friend of the site E-Rock has provided a behind-the-scenes review of the show for those of us State-side. Here's what he had to say about their set at Melkweg (August 19, 2009).

Them Crooked Vultures Groove the Melkweg, Amsterdam
submitted by E-Rock, guest Three Colours contributor

The anticipation was high, to say the least. This was only the second live performance from Them Crooked Vultures, the new collaboration between Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones. The show had only been announced two days prior from very limited sources (not including the Melkweg music venue’s website) with tickets going on sale exclusively from the box office the next day. I was fortunate enough to be one of 1500 in line yesterday afternoon to get one of those tickets.

While the expectations were great, no one really knew what to expect. Only a few low quality videos with very poor sound were online. In an effort to continue with this strict music control, cameras and recording devices were not allowed at the door. The group clearly set the tone with their opener, a rumbling groover that featured prominent slide base from John Paul Jones. The group weaved in and out of different styles the whole night, but if I had to describe the unifying theme of their sound, it would be “cerebral groove rock” (for lack of a better term). Their songs ranged widely, including progressive, technical pieces with irregular dynamics and time signatures; hypnotic, trance-inducing robot beats; swirling jam sessions with forays into psychedelia; and a couple shiny, straight-ahead rockers. It was all colorful mood music, and these guys are masters of the mood.

As expected, each of the members brought their own experiences to the table. The songs/structures are probably most similar to earlier Queens work, falling somewhere between Rated R and Songs for the Deaf. Homme contributed his signature guitar solos and throw-away lyrics that function to add another layer of texture to the music. The base and drums were also featured very prominently in all of the arrangements. Jones looked and sounded great, playing in several styles and often functioning as a “third guitar” in the mix. Grohl also changed it up a lot, showing what varied drumming and off-beat emphasis can do for moving a song forward.

The amount of musical talent on the stage was staggering. These guys qualify for supergroup status, with Grohl on drums, Jones on bass, Homme on lead guitar and vocals, and multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes in tow for the tour on second guitar, including slide, and keys. In a sense, these guys are a musician’s band who are interested in making their own playlist and want to take you along with them. Nonetheless, Them Vultures really sounded tight, like they have been touring for months. They were obviously having a great time exploring new musical territory together, and there wasn’t any pretension on stage. Homme and Grohl clearly showed reverence to Jones, but they were all operating as equals and were having a blast not fronting their own projects for a change.

A couple of songs just didn’t land quite as well as the others in an otherwise highly impressive set. In particular, one bizarre interlude two-thirds of the way through the show included Homme putting down his guitar and singing and dancing to Grohl’s soft tropical beats while Jones played the keytar. I didn’t get it either, but they certainly had a sense of humor about it.

In all, an excellent show. If you can catch these guys in a small venue, I highly recommend it. I would also expect more out of these guys in the near term. They’re having far too much fun to stop touring any time soon. When the heavy grooving LP arrives, it is probably worth checking out.


Anonymous said...


I just have no words, I've seen a lot of bands live.... But never ever before had a F*SCKING train roll over me, and do it at least 14 times again as this guys have. They are just amazint!! Catch them if you can!

Jon Humston said...

Wow! I can't believe "E-Rock" got to go to this show. What an awesome opportunity. It pays to be in Amsterdam I guess. And very nice review of the show, too. My friend was in Chicago for Lollapalooza and he didn't hear about their show that weekend there until after, and it almost made the whole weekend a bust to him because he was so close and missed it.

Anonymous said...

For the record: the show didn't sell out.

J said...

How much were tickets to this show?

Greg said...

It was € 37.50 + € 5 "membership" fee to the venue.