Josh Homme brings brawn and belligerence to the seaside as QOTSA play Dreamland
Dreamland Margate’s curation in recent months has been nothing short of dreamy: the theme park-turned-outdoor arena raising eyebrows with its roster of seaside summer events. But the announcement of sludgy desert rockers Queens Of The Stone Age certainly seemed like a rogue selection at first. Before everyone realised the band were warming up for their Other Stage headline performance at Glastonbury…
Not that the 15,000 eager punters particularly cared. The opportunity to see a stadium-sized band in a quirky, boutique arena in the blistering heat on the Kent coast was a true one-off, whether or not it’d merely be a vehicle to road-test new material from their recent album – albeit a burgeoning fan favourite – In Times New Roman. Instead, they gifted us a brawny setlist of deep-cuts and groove-laden heavy-hitters that’d eventually give the venue’s organisers a splitting headache.
Rocking up half an hour late irked pockets of the Dreamland crowd (some of which were boozily willing to indicate their irritations with middle fingers and heckles), though the soundtrack of Peggy Lee’s ‘Smile’ accompanying the band’s entrance was in many ways a mirroring middle-finger back to the disgruntled few. They’re ‘rock stars’ after all, and they certainly leant into the cliché tonight. For better or worse.
Grinding out oft-overlooked ‘Misfit Love’ as a set opener was a welcome surprise, and helped unfurl the long mops of headbangers throughout the front rows. Queens Of The Stone Age’s recent album feels musically informed by its 2007 predecessor, Era Vulgaris, so felt fitting to dig out a couple of the album’s choice picks, with the swampy, unforgiving ‘Battery Acid’ also making the cut.
Lyrically however, In Times New Roman very much exorcises the fallout of Josh Homme’s recent personal troubles with macabre, apocalyptic imagery and a dash of gallows humour. It may be dark, but he’s definitely having fun with it. Giving off ‘new single dad’ vibes, Homme promised Dreamland that “we’re here to have the best time we could possibly have”, and to “give you a night you’ll never remember”. They failed on the latter due to the show’s memorable conclusion. More on that shortly.
There was a touching tribute to the late Mark Lanegan with Rated R’s reflective ‘In The Fade’ (likely the nearest Queens Of The Stone Age have ever come to a ballad), a quick-fire trio of new numbers ‘Carnavoyeur’, ‘Time & Place’, and ‘Paper Machete’, leaving all the songs from seminal album Songs For The Deaf until the set’s scorching crescendo.
Of course, they couldn’t leave without playing the ever-forceful ‘Go With The Flow’ and the perennial chant-a-long when they roll out ‘No One Knows’, despite the venue’s attempts to usher the band off after breaking the curfew. It took the plugs to be pulled to halt the encore of ‘Song For The Dead’, so Josh (all six foot five of him) piled into the drum kit to call time on their loose and lively Dreamland show. It must be something in the seaside air.