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Concert Reviews:
Them Crooked Vultures Take Flight At Fillmore

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, October 9, 2009

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DETROIT -- Fans flocking to see Them Crooked Vultures on Thursday night (Oct. 8) at the Fillmore Detroit were as curious as they were excited.

The excitement, of course, came from the group members' various pedigrees -- drummer Dave Grohl from Nirvana and Foo Fighters (who's been talking about the band since 2005), bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, singer-guitarist Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. And don't discount utility man Alain Johannes, a current Queens member who's also been part of Eleven and Chris Cornell's bands.

But precious few have actually heard anything by this new supergroup. Its debut album is still awaiting a release date, and only a couple of songs -- sanctioned ones, at least -- have made their way onto the Internet. And it's not like Them Crooked Vultures planned to appease the faithful with anything familiar; "We're going to play a lot of new music for you tonight," Homme announced early in the show, later asking "Are you still with me? It's a lot of new music, I know."

But over the course of 80 minutes and 13 songs, TCV turned the Fillmore faithful into fans of that fresh fare with a pulverizing show that stoked anticipation for that eventual album.

The TCV sound in general was, not surprisingly, aggressive, blending punk and metal energy with psychedelic melodies, occasional blues touches and the instrumental acumen of all four musicians -- at exceedingly high volumes. Grohl, who sings and plays guitar for Foo Fighters, was visibly enthused to be bashing away on the drums, while Jones' bass work was inventive and playful enough to be a lead instrument on its own. And together they laid a foundation for Homme's six-string excursions, which ranged from short, jagged blasts to, on the show-closing "Warsaw," extended jams

TCV opened with the frenetic, twisting fury of "Elephants" but shifted into a more melodic mode with "Dead End Friends," which Jones moved to keyboards and Homme deployed his falsetto on "Scumbag Blues." Homme curried some favor with a shout-out to Detroit, talking about spending five days here recently for Queens bandmate (and Ferndale resident) Dean Fertita's wedding: "I always like Detroit but never understood it. Now...I (expletive) love this city. I don't care what Time magazine says."

But it was the music that won the night, from the dirty crunch of "Caligulove" to the stuttering riff of "Bandoliers," the funky bounce of "New Fang," the leaden stomp of "Daffodils," the punky blasts of "Reptiles" and "Mind Eraser" and the bluesy tinges of "Nobody Loves Me (And Neither Do I)" and "Warsaw." TCV only let up, a bit, on the subtly Latin-flavored "Interlude w/Ludes," for which Homme put down his guitar and Jones slung a portable keyboard over his shoulder.

Most "supergroups" wind up being something less than the sum of their parts, but on Thursday TCV showed potential to be an exception. If nothing else, those who came were nicely rewarded for their curiosity.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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