Concert Review - Them Crooked Vultures

I can tell you all right now that I am going to run out of superlatives for this show and these musicians. You had to be there. That’s really the short of it.

Before I get too far, the opening act was New York City natives The Brought Low, and if you like Wolfmother, they're worth a look. There's talent to be had in this band. They played a tight set and did a fine job keeping the crowd warm. Moving on.

I don't know that I have ever, or will ever, have the pleasure of watching musicians who so clearly enjoy playing music with each other. Especially in consideration of the fact that the band is less than a year old. That goes most of all for walking legend John Paul Jones, who looks younger and smiles more than he has is probably twenty years. He is a man reborn, brought back to cutting-edge relevance by two musicians who grew up idolizing him.

To their credit, Josh Homme and Dave Grohl are also experiencing a musical renaissance, as they focus their effort through the lens of an icon. They are once again young, frenetic and imaginative teenagers gleefully living their boyhood dream. The band resembles an older brother teaching his younger siblings and at the same time being rejuvenated by their energy.

Jones has reached the point in his career where he does not have to maintain an image. He looked relaxed and easy, playing the things the way they were written and expounded when asked to. He simply approaches the stage and plays without pompous showmanship, the same as he has ever done. The exception now is that he is the focus of attention, not in the background.

Dave Grohl is, for lack of a better description, the human version of the Muppet drummer Animal. I have no idea how he doesn't have whiplash. He hits nothing softly, and thrashes his head in all directions at all times.

Josh Homme may be the least personally engaging member of the band, but he is the grease that makes the wheels turn. It is to Homme's credit that he is willing to eschew the too common flaw of frontmen and be an equal piece of the band.

The set list was everything you'd expect it to be. The crowd drank in every drop of "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I," which ignited the Roseland Ballroom and led off the stellar set. In no particular order, new classics were flung left to right, from "New Fang," to "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," and a powerful, soulful "Elephants." Songs were often extended in the intro or outro, and "Scumbag Blues" was turned into a wandering jam, but that can be forgiven when it was likely the product of the band having too much fun.

Said and done, the set list was the entire album, plus the unrecorded track "Highway One," and the energy never subsided, even during a slower piece like "Interlude With Ludes." The crowd hung on every note, cheered wildly at all times and was awestruck with the fantastic light show.

There were no classics dusted off on this night. In retrospect, any Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Nirvana or Queens of the Stone Age songs would have felt out of place. The message was clear. Them Crooked Vultures don't want to be thought of as a mash-up of old bands or some kind of musical Marvel What If? comic book. They are real, they have bonded to an incredible degree, and they are a band forged of their own right.

Walking away, seeing Them Crooked Vultures live is a privilege. They're not playing many dates, but if you get a chance, take in the spectacle.

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