josh.jpgA WEEK or so ago, I fulfilled a six year dream. It’s taken me this long to let it leave my head and judge it properly. Maybe this comes off as too personal rather than informative, but tonight was most definitely personal.

Queens of the Stone Age, the magnificent ensemble fronted by Josh Homme, played a tiny gig in central London last week, at the infamous 100 Club. Apparently chosen by the band themselves, the venue was absolutely perfect; intimate, only a slightly risen stage and thin. My friend and I – Mikael – arrived early and decided to queue around 7ish. We met a lovely lass, Michelle, and her husband in the queue, chatted and eventually got in. We got a beer and then actually noticed where we were… and just how fucking small it was. Five or six people were already there, but there was only one place to go:

Right at the fucking front.

But first, some background. I love Queens. Never has such a band had a permanent groove. For years I’ve wanted to see this band and a while back, I got a ticket to a show. Unfortunately, (and not just personally here) the show fell on an awful day – July 7. Needless to say, Queens never played.

Josh and co came back later that year. They just happened to re-arrange the gig at a good venue, Koko in Camden, and even filmed it, along with another show. They made a DVD of it – you may have seen it. Unfortunately I was in Morocco travelling with my friend, Fatboy.

Since then, nothing. Until tonight.

I visit the Rekords Rekords forum now and again, check sites for Queens news and yesterday, while surfing NME for shitty news, I saw the most amazing thing – Intimate Queens Show. I went on, tried to grab tickets, and got fuck all. But I’m persistent.

About 600 F5 refreshes on my Firefox browser at work later… I had two from a resale. Mikael and myself were there. Nothing could stop us now. I had to skip a softball game at work – our debut no less, I know, not the ‘hippest sport’ – but it’s Queens. There’s no choice.

I nearly cried with joy and ended up banging on about it at work for hours. People probably told me to shut up about it. I would’ve realised.

Cut to 9pm, my legs are aching, I have a man’s hand in my back pushing and am wedged between the pushing mosh and the ass of the girl in front. I wish I’d bought another beer. Too late now. Lose the place.

So when they came out it was a huge peak, I thought maybe I’d overlike it. If I’d put out my arm, I would’ve been playing Josh’s guitar. Amazing. The guy is massive. And so it began.

Misfit Love nearly blew my head off and that was the first song, it was forceful, it was powerful, it had groove and it took me about three minutes to realise that the riff hadn’t even changed yet. It was whizzing me by already. I was sweating too. It was just so fucking hot.

Now a lot of ‘critics’ have put their two cents in since and said how disappointing this gig was. Fuck them. This wasn’t for you, this wasn’t for Mr Drowned in Sound I want a greatest hits set – this was to air the new album to close fans. Not journalists. Fans. Sure, you all got in (there’s a LOT of reviews out there for such a secret gig), but that’s down to the management and probably your persistence and mild threats of bad album reviews. That’s why the link for tickets was mailed to only certain people. Sure, I’d love to have heard some of my favourite songs in the world but that’s because I’ve never seen them before. I was more than happy.

Sick Sick Sick, 3s and 7s, Turning on the Screw – these stand out incredibly. 3s and 7s is an amazing riff-driven song that moves on, before inwardly wanking itself off into a joyous tangent. A bass breakdown later and it throws you back into it’s main riff with Homme’s guitar squealing above everything. Outstanding. Sick Sick Sick is probably one of the phattest (with a ‘ph’) songs that I’ve heard live in ages; c-c-c-c-come on.

See everyone there was so joyous, just dancing, ecstatic that they’d even got tickets (I found out afterwards that most of these were the Queens messageboard regulars, who’d helped each other out with guest tickets to guarentee everyone got in).

But some old songs were there, to whip the crowd into a frenzy. I have never heard any drumming like Joey’s in ages. He’s just immense. It was just so relentless, powering and movement-inducing. Mexicola came and went too quickly, as did Little Sister and In My Head. By the time Song for the Dead finished, I felt like I was going to collapse, purely from listening to drumming that quick. If the phrase ‘speed metal’ was ever invented for anything, it was most definitely that.

A girl climbed on stage and kissed Josh whilst he played. Homme raised his Corona to the crowd and drank in tandem. New bassist, Mikey, threw some amazing shapes, stances and twirled his hair like a maniac to the beat. The crowd moved with the beats. Nearly everyone there was awesome, friendly and most importantly… absolutely loving it.

I met one guy, blue t-shirt who’s name escapes me, but singing along to Mexicola with him was so much fun. I’ve really forgotten the simple pleasure of just dancing, singing and thrusting your hand to the ceiling shouting the words of ‘my favourite song’.

And as I sit here writing this now, wearing my skinny white T (£15 from the stand), all I can do is type and listen to them. As Mr Homme and 300 people shouted last week, ‘It’s in my head, and I need it.’

J.

i have a dream…

January 2, 2007

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in my head.

red zebra

I have a dream that one day a group will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “i see ma’ bebe, well she’s so fine.”

I have a dream that one day on the dancefloor of London town, the offspring of band members and groupies will be able to sit down together at the table of red zebra.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Essex, a state sweltering with the heat of binge drinking, sweltering with the heat of cheap sex, will be transformed into an oasis of beautiful music and animal noises.

I have a dream that my three little monkeys will one day appear on a stage where they will not be judged by the smell of their bodies but by the content of their songs.

I have a dream today…  an evening with red zebra + friends.

This is our hope, and this is our faith that I go back to the underworld with.

red zebra. x.

P.S. not that I’m trying to devalue what ol’ MLK was saying.