Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
It wasn't looking good. In typical Colorado fashion, following a summer-like 76° Sunday, mother nature pulled the ol' switcheroo and unleashed the first snowfall of winter, 2017 on Monday. This is all well and good, but when you're A band about to play Red Rocks, it can be a pain in the ass. Ask The XX, who had to be relocated Monday night to the much less grandiose 1st Bank Center.
But it turns out even Mother Nature is no match for the likes of Josh Homme, Michael Shuman, Jon Theodore, Troy Van Leeuwen and Dean Fertita on Tuesday night. Because as soon as the Queens bus crossed over the state line, the temperature rose 30°, and there wasn't enough snow left at Red Rocks to make a snowball. Hyperbole aside, Queens of the Stone Age gave Colorado one of the best shows of the year.
Kicking off the festivities were English two-piece Royal Blood, hot on the heels of their latest release How Did We Get So Dark. Now, this grizzled writer has seen his fair share of rock duos in his seemingly endless time on this earth, but never has he seen a two-piece sound bigger than most five-pieces before. Bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher were clearly enjoying themslves and their sheer jubilance at playing an inaugural set at Red Rocks was in stark contrast to other rock duos "too cool" to show such emotion. I'm looking at you, Black Keys.
By the time QOTSA hit the stage at 8:50 on the dot, the audience was primed and ready. Starting out with Villains album opener Feel Don't Fail Me. When they followed it up with First it Giveth and Avon, it became pretty clear this was going to be an career-encompassing set - with a focus, naturally, on the group's latest, Villains. The strength of the new material is evident when it receives just as much fanfare from the crowd as an older deep cut like Leg of Lamb.
What also becomes evident from the start is just how strong of a rhythm section they have in Shuman and Theodore, laying a rock-solid foundation strong enough - and one could almost say flawless enough, that it affords Homme, Van Leeuwen and Fertita the freedom to really do whatever the fuck they want. The stage was sparse, save for some lighting stands arranged around the stage that served mostly as target practice for Shuman.
Queens ran a tight-as-a-snare set lasting 100 minutes plus two encores of Head Like a Haunted House - a highlight amongst many highlights and Song for the Dead, a literal show-stopper. Homme came to play, not talk, but that didnt keep him from conversing and giving some sage advice to a young woman in the front row expecting her first child. Homme loves what he does and wears his gratitude on his western shirt sleeve. To him, every note is a blessing, which put both him and the Red Rocks crowd in total agreement.