The surprising involvement of Mark Ronson in their latest album might have suggested that Queens of the Stone Age were going pop, but as the first of two London arena shows proved, the Californian band still have rock’n’roll running through them like, well, a stick of rock.
Louche frontman Josh Homme smoked on stage, repeatedly reeled off a list of recreational drugs during their early single Feelgood Hit of the Summer, and gave short shrift to security guards preventing fans from sitting on each other’s shoulders. “Remember, you work for me tonight,” he scolded.
The new album, Villains, became the long-running band’s first UK number one in September. It’s far from poppy but does encroach on that interesting middle ground where guitars can sound like synths and synths can sound like guitars. Feet Don’t Fail Me turned a long intro into a sharp-elbowed groove. The Way You Used to Do was a frantic hip-shaker that picked up the pace still further.
The streamlined sound occasionally gave way to old-fashioned rock indulgences, such as Troy Van Leeuwen switching to a twin-necked guitar and a long drum solo from Jon Theodore. The memorable light show suited them better, a set of floor rods that could be kicked and smacked to make them wave around for a bit of violent showmanship.
Homme remained as magnetic as ever, a rocker unafraid to try new things, and crucially, still untamed.