Thursday, September 18, 2003

Show was free, but 'Queens' lost their head

Concert review

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The king of Queens was a no-show. But it's difficult to ask for a refund when there's no money put forward in the first place.

The hard-rock collective Queens of the Stone Age played a one-off promotional show at Jillian's in Covington Wednesday night, but singer and guitarist Josh Homme didn't make it. A representative of the band's record label, Interscope, attributed Homme's absence to "a personal issue."

Someone in the crowd asked Homme's partner in the group, Nick Oliveri, about Homme's whereabouts.

"He's sick. I swear," Oliveri answered, as his words changed to laughter.

With Homme gone, Oliveri handled most of the lead-vocal duties during the quick 40-minute set. The show was a freebie put on by local radio station WAQZ-FM (97.3), and the crowd of 400 comprised listeners who received free tickets through the station. The appearance came on an off day of the band's tour opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Queens of the Stone Age is technically a partnership of Homme and Oliveri with a changing cast of all-star backup players that have included the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Judas Priest's Rob Halford. But it's Homme who sings the band's best-known songs, so there were no hits played in his absence. Instead, the 11-song set included lesser-known tunes from the group's last two albums and a few rarities.

Most selections were performed by the trio of Oliveri on bass and vocals, Joey Castillo on drums, and Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar. Ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan joined the group on lead vocals for three songs.

Oliveri usually screamed his vocals, so Lanegan added a touch of Homme's understated counterpoint with a melodious approach to his turns at the mic, the best of which was a version of "Auto Pilot."

For his part, Oliveri seemed to be doing whatever he could to overcome the amplification limitations on this particular night in the second-floor tower room at Jillian's, where the intimate concert was held.

He absolutely screamed the words to the three most noteworthy punk-metal rave-ups of the set: "Quick and to the Pointless," "Tension Head" and "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar but I Feel Like a Millionaire."


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