Queens Of The Stone Age at Belsonic on 20th August 2014

Back on this island after two well received shows late last year (including being one of GoldenPlec’s best gig of 2013), Josh Homme’s Queens Of The Stone Age can justifiably be called one of the premier rock acts in the world right now. The anticipation was immense ahead of their 2013 shows as QOTSA had been of the scene for a while so it was hard to gauge if the same fervor would be present with them returning so soon. Such fears were dissipated by a near capacity crowd at the well organised Belsonic venue at Custom House Square in Belfast.

Before the main event, Brody Dalle treated the crowd to a slick performance with enough of her customary edge still remaining to prevent it ever feeling run of the mill. The only real complaint was that her backing band didn’t really match the enthusiasm she was displaying.

A lack of edge is not a complaint that could be leveled at QOTSA especially when they open with the skull crushing You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire. Josh Homme may be the Andrea Pirlo of rock, making it all look ridiculously effortless. Most bands like to save one of the biggest hits until later in the set or save it until the encore, but an act like QOTSA have a repertoire of solid gold rock classics. They can afford to throw No One Knows out so early in the set, safe in the knowledge that they have plenty more left in the tank.

Such a blistering opening sets a high benchmark to maintain and over the following hour and half it was a standard they largely held. My God Is The Sun and Monsters In The Parasol showed no let up. The highlight of the early set is the debauched Smooth Sailing which induced “don’t give a fuck what I look like when I’m busting moves” dancing.

The one misstep in the set-list is when In The Fade followed …Like Clockwork. A change of pace was welcome and necessary but perhaps something slightly more up tempo than In The Fade would have fit better in the context of the set. The crowd reaction to it was somewhat muted. That feeling was quickly wiped away by the double whammy of If I Had A Tail and Little Sister.

For Fairweather Friend, Josh Homme just couldn’t help but notice a Custom House Square resident’s dog watching him from the balcony of the adjacent flats. So the song was duly dedicated to the dog, who fled back inside. But Homme was watching and later on he wouldn’t start Go With The Flow until the dog returned. Would the king charles pooch make a return? Inevitably it did and got a large cheer as it was raised aloof to the crowd. In between that Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret and Do It Again are rattled out, keeping the pace frantic.

The swaggering Make It Wit Chu was the first song into the encore, but a QOTSA set should only end one way and that is in a thunderous climax. Cue Song For The Dead with its pounding, growling intro. It’s a rousing conclusion to what was a near perfect QOTSA set list. You could quibble that nothing from ‘Lullabies To Paralyze’ was played and In My Head at least would have comfortably sat in that set-list.

But there was very little to criticise about this gig. Access in was pain free, there were very few queues and even the rain stayed away. But really, this was all about Queens Of The Stone Age and they delivered.