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Them Crooked Vultures, Brixton Academy, Brixton, July 5th 2010

July 14, 2010

© Jane Donald 2010

The Hammersmith gigs by Them Crooked Vultures last December were two of my favourites of the year. The sheer power created by Dave Grohl’s drumming, John Paul Jones’s thumping bass and Josh Homme’s crunching guitar was a marvel to behold. The Suit thought it rather one-dimensional, but I’m a sucker for loud rock played with devastating ‘tightness’ – that indefinable quality that’s so much more than just the ability of the band to keep time properly, but something less than precision, which would be dull. In fact, the title of the best Led Zeppelin fanzine Tight But Loose gives a perfect description of all that was best about Jones’s former band: a fluidity and looseness of almost jazzy proportions, coupled with a rocking heart that never skips a beat.

The set wasn’t very different from those of last December as it wasn’t part of a tour but a one-off benefit gig for Brian O’Connor, Homme’s musician buddy who has cancer but insufficient medical coverage to get treatment – don’tcha love the US of A? The main gripe The Suit had with the set last December was that there was little change of pace or volume during the show, and I suppose the same was true this time around. But when the music’s this good, I’m not complaining.

We did get one new song, which was fine, though the night was dominated by the big numbers from the album – No One Loves Me And Neither Do I, Scumbag Blues, the riff-fest Elephants and Mind Eraser, No Chaser. The crowd was very much into it, which seemed to give the band a little more interaction than last year. The pace did slacken slightly with Interludes With Ludes and a noodly though good solo by guitar back-up Alain Johannes, but the highlight of the night was album closer Spinning With Daffodils and a fabulous extended keyboard solo from JPJ – quite took me back to his massive No Quarter solos with Led Zeppelin. When Dave Grohl crashes in at the end, it’s a mighty righteous sound.

It’ll be interesting to see if they can take the sound further with a second album – their hugely diverse output elsewhere suggests scope for variety – but for now what they serve up is quite fine enough. After encore New Fang, they waved goodbye to a huge roar, having well and truly rocked the house.

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