There’s a sense of tangible excitement in Finsbury Park before Queens Of The Stone Age take to the stage. It’s clear as the masses gather that this is a band who have graduated from an arena worthy rock act to gargantuan legends.
The group storms through opener ‘Do It Again’ followed immediately by ‘The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret’ and the crowd is instantly in the palm of their hands. They drop the Mark Ronson produced, post-pop banger ‘Like You Used To’ early on in the set and it’s here we start to see the modern shades of frontman Josh Homme’s swagger. Although his presence feels very derivative of the Alex Turner-led wave of mature, electric guitar wielding Elvis impersonators; he brings a self assured scorn that can’t be seen in any other current act.
Throughout the set he proves himself as the king of the emo crooners, full of understated hip shakes - but not lacking the signature snarl that we’ve come to expect and love. However, don’t be fooled, QOTSA are far more than just Homme’s backing band. Bassist Michael Shuman steals the show musically multiple times, from funky grooves to powerful driven punk, he cements himself as a Jack of all trades and seemingly a master of each and every one. Stage right a suited and booted Troy Van Leeuwen supports Homme’s wild and unpredictable playing with a strong bed of fantastic guitar (all whilst looking insanely cool). They quickly prove that this is a band of musical magicians at their tightest yet.
Whilst there are a few questionable comments on the band’s alcohol consumption and some of the in-between song spiels touch on the side of arrogance, Homme mostly makes the fans feel appreciated and truly part of a journey. There’s drum solos, scrappy guitar, breakdowns, strobe lights, an extended version of ‘No One Knows’ and 45,000 impressed fans. There’s a reason why QOTSA have reached this point in their career and put simply it’s because they are bloody good.
And QOTSA’s mates pulled some show-stopping performances out of the bag too. Here’s our favourites;
Striding on stage topless and in a pair of white skinny jeans Miles Kane picks up his guitar and immediately launches into a high octane performance of ‘Inhaler’ - this man is not fucking about. It’s great to hear blistering tracks from the singer’s first two albums in the equally blistering sunshine, but the real excitement lies with the new songs he’s previewing in Finsbury Park. ‘Loaded’ is a sultry and schmoozing ode with Miles crooning, “My baby’s always threatening to leave,” and ‘Too Little Too Late’ is more reminiscent of the fundamental rock ’n’ roll soundscape the singer has carved so far in his career, however ‘Cry On My Guitar’ is a T-Rex sounding, disco rock jaunt more refreshing than an ice cold beer. Ending on old favourite ‘Come Closer’, it’s another reminder that the new album isn’t a million miles away, and we can’t wait to hear what he's been cooking up.
“Hello Great Brexit, I’m from Europe,” jokes Pelle Almqvist as the ever entertaining Hives enter the stage. Moments before the band walk on they are introduced by a roadie... dressed as a ninja... From this point onwards there isn’t any time to catch your breath in the set and at this point in time it seems as though there isn’t any other band in the world that can match the sheer joy that this quintet will bestow upon you. Within one song, three quarters of the group are in the crowd and their ninja clad roadies are put to the test; catching guitars, saving microphones and generally trying to keep one of the most chaotic live spectacles going. Almqvist is a master of one liners, he keeps us somewhere between amused and appalled throughout the show and at one point he even compares himself to a God walking amongst men. But how do The Hives get away with this amount of sheer ridiculousness? Well firstly, their songs are incredibly entertaining and perfectly constructed and secondly, every drum stick throw, power pose or lad rock chorus is delivered with a knowing wink and a cheeky nudge. The band thrive on not taking themselves too seriously and by the time they’ve finished the final chorus of ‘Tick Tick Boom’ all you want to do is watch them again.
There’s not a single person in Finsbury Park that isn’t aware that Iggy Pop is a living legend. Opening with The Stooges classic ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, the septuagenarian bounds across the stage much like a puppy. ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Lust For Life’ are played back to back early on in the singer’s set and while it’s a shame no songs from Post Pop Depression make it into the performance, the show is lapped up by the appreciative audience nonetheless. Closing his set with a cover of David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’, a touching nod to the late, great icon and one of his own friends, it’s impossible to deny that Iggy Pop is one of the greatest living rock stars of our time, and each time we catch him live is an absolute honour.
Fresh from their debut album announcement, Black Honey open the Main Stage with scorching aplomb. Sonic chameleons, the four piece from Brighton have always managed to meander their sound into many different guises while still making it quintessentially ‘Black Honey’. This is evident none more so than on new cut ‘Midnight’, a disco infused pop banger which is a stark contrast from the darker, recent cut ‘Bad Friends’ and the Tarantino-esque ‘Spinning Wheel’.
With riffs more sizzling than the Finsbury Park sunshine, Deap Vally employ a welcome return when they take to the Main Stage after Black Honey. Showcasing some new material, vocalist Lindsey Troy’s trademark snarl is still evident in her vocal delivery while Julie Edwards’ drums are more palpable than ever proving they haven’t lost any of their rock ’n’ roll prowess. The opening chords of ‘Royal Jelly’ itch through the already sizeable crowd, while the lingering ‘Smile More’ is a hazy jaunt which only reinforces how good it is to have them back.