Monday, November 23, 2009

Concert Review - Them Crooked Vultures in Portland

I spent my Sunday night like every responsible working stiff parent of three (soon to be four) boys - I was in downtown Portland catching a rock show.

But not just any rock show, peeps. Oh no, this was Them Crooked Vultures, the latest 'super group' or just a super group as I heard someone rephrase it (both are correct) featuring John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (Nirvana and the Foo Fighters), and Jose Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). They had a fourth member to help augment instrumentation and vocals -- Alain Johannes. This guy was a jack of all trades who played bass, guitar and keyboards and did some great vocal harmonies.

But the two I was really there to see were Grohl and Jones. I had never seen either live in any incarnation, which is really pathetic because I could have seen Nirvana a bunch when they were in their heyday and for sure The Foo Fighters have been through Portland a ton of times.

So I was really seeing these guys live with a fresh brain. And my poor fresh brain was filled with groovy goo, ripped out of my skull and smooshed around the floor of the Roseland Theater over the course of the hour and a half long show.

People, I didn't even know who to focus on. Dave Grohl is a monster. I have never seen someone hit the drums with such a sense of purpose and BELIEF. He also hits them incredibly hard. He is a big guy, and he plays the drums very physically. No - he beats the SHIT out of the drums. Like I said in my CD review, I feel like he is auditioning for the next Zeppelin reunion. I seriously think he may have the part...

John Paul Jones on the other hand just makes what he's doing look amazingly easy. He is an effortless player and after a while I was so stunned by his talent that I kept forgetting I was looking at one of the founding members of Led Zeppelin. He pulled out all the instruments, too. He played four string bass, eight string bass, twelve string bass, some kind of multi-string lap steel oddity I had never seen before, and keyboards, including one of those keyboard guitars that you wear over your shoulder.

There were a couple of songs (Reptiles was one, and the others I don't know by name) where Grohl and Jones locked tighter than I have ever seen a drummer and bass player lock together. And they knew it, too. Big, big smiles on their faces all night.

I mean come on. Playing with Zeppelin's bass player has got to be like some unreal crazy-assed dream for Grohl, and can anyone tell me another post-Zeppelin band Jones has even been in, much less something this heavy and groovy at the same time? I tell you what - you want to see what Jones' contribution to Zeppelin was? Go see Them Crooked Vultures. It was A LOT.

Homme was also excellent. His vocals were spot on and he added great vocal melody to the insanity of the music. He and Johannes also had some of the coolest guitars I have ever seen, and played with all sorts of interesting techniques, from slide playing to octave effect pedals. He's a darn good soloist as well.

The band did all of the stuff off the CD plus a couple of other things and didn't touch the vast catalogue of any of their previous/current bands. They didn't even do an encore - they ran out of songs! Part way through, some chump in the audience shouted out for a Zeppelin song and Homme told him they weren't a cover band but if they wanted to hear covers, there was one playing down the street.

I also have to point out that I usually don't like seeing music at the Roseland because it's a pretty dark rock venue and there is always a kind of heavy vibe there. But I have to say, the security folks did a GREAT job keeping things under control. I was two back from the barricade on JPJ's side, and some wasted idiot tried to barrel by me. I stopped him but of course later he made another run. When he got to the front center, a gigantic security guy grabbed him and told him to chill the hell out. They stopped some mosh breakouts too, ensuring that the younger kids in the front didn't get hurt, as the show was all ages.

Also, the rumor mill had Eddie Vedder and Krist Novoselic in the audience but I didn't see them in the roped off special balcony section. I did see Myles Kennedy however, and was tempted to go up to him and scream "Stand up and Shooooooooooooouuuuuuuutttttttt!" but I didn't want to get punched. Hell, maybe there is truth to the Zeppelin rumor after all - he'd sing the shit out of The Immigrant Song!

Not sure if Them Crooked Vultures plan on continuing indefinitely or if this is kind of a one-off endeavor. So, I'd encourage you to see them while you can. You will not be disappointed and your brains may feel better too. I know mine do.

Here are some more of my Treo photos:


Anonymous said...

Was at the show last night and your review pretty much sums it up. Such an amazing night and the energy was incredible.

Tai James said...

You hit the nail on the head... after seeing the Wiltern show on the 17th, I was so excited to know you would soon be seeing this band. And knowing that I might have been one of those you were referencing in your CD review ("DG could shit in a bag, post the sound on iTunes..."), I was positive that you would appreciate the fierceness and ferver in which Dave approaches the drums. I will put it out here for all to see... I'd be perfectly content for FF to be on permanent hiatius if it meant more TCV. Yeah, I said it. TCV is that good.

Anonymous said...

I saw them in Seattle Saturday night. This was truly the best show I have ever seen. Dave Grohl violently beat the holy hell out of the drums! They were all 4 spot on. The show is still stuck in my brain and I don't want it to end.

harmolodic said...

I am green with envy! I missed their SF appearance on Thursday. But, there's hope yet. They're already talking about a second album:

Isorski said...

Harmolodic, that is great news! I hope this band carries on for a good long time.