Queens of the Stone Age Metropolis, Montreal QC March 27

Queens of the Stone Age Metropolis, Montreal QC March 27
Longtime fans of Josh Homme's Queens of the Stone Age couldn't help but get excited when the band announced that they were not only reissuing their 1998 self-titled debut, but were also going the extra mile and taking it out on an extensive tour, where they would perform it from start to finish. These circumstances weren't lost on anyone in the jam-packed 2,500-person capacity Metropolis, and the band were certainly there to please.

From the opening chords of "Regular John" and into Queens classics "Avon," "If Only" and onward down the album's tracklist, the venue was primed for a wall-to-wall riffage fest, with simple, straightforward powerful stoner rock made unique by Homme's soft voice. The tunes brought into stark contrast just how needlessly complicated and cluttered Queens songs had become during the Era Vulgaris/Them Crooked Vultures era.

Of course, this being the Metropolis, the sound was only clear if you happened to be standing right in front of band. From anywhere else, the guitars were muddled or Homme's vocals were lost in the mix. And into the second half of the set, an air of predictability settled over the show, with the group losing a bit of their energy and slipping into autopilot.

CORRECTION: As several commenters have pointed out, Queens of the Stone Age did not in fact play any new songs. Exclaim! apologizes for the error.

But the true highlight was the handful of new songs the Queens previewed, which were so obviously of a different mindset that they sounded like the work of a different band. Homme recently spoke to Exclaim! about how the new material was much slower, blues-driven and based upon epic looping jams, and live, it was the most original material the band had produced in years, sounding like a clean break from past accomplishments. If this is the new QOTSA sound, then it's about time to get a little excited for a left turn away from the poppiness of past efforts and into the Earth-like dirges of a big band breaking new ground.