Gig review: Them Crooked Vultures in Wellington

REVIEWED BY SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 14:57 30/01/2010
Them Crooked Vultures
ROBERT KITCHIN/Dominion Post

THEM CROOKED VULTURES: left to right: John Paul Jones, Josh Homme and Dave Grohl.

dave
SHANE WENZLICK/Stuff.co.nz Zoom
MAN POSSESSED: Dave Grohl performs with Them Crooked Vultures in Auckland.

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It is swiftly apparent that to see Them Crooked Vultures live is to witness the best and worst aspects of this band, writes Simon Sweetman.

Them Crooked Vultures
Where: TSB Arena,
When: Friday, January 29

If Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) and Josh Homme (Queens of The Stone Age, Kyuss) had decided on any other bass player, this might have been just any other project.

But John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) instantly elevated Them Crooked Vultures to the talk of the town last year; the supergroup to watch.

Everyone was waiting for the debut, self-titled album. So to see the band live is, in many ways, to decide if they actually stand up as something beyond the hype; as more than just a project.

That becomes hard to tell when there are deafening screams for Jones before he is introduced.

The crowd also goes crazy when Grohl thrashes at the cymbals.

There are certainly moments when the best songs from the album surge with energy; the audience moving almost as one to Scumbag Blues, No One Loves Me & Neither Do I and Reptiles.

But it is swiftly apparent that to see Them Crooked Vultures live is to witness the best and worst aspects of this band. 

The attempts to improvise and add colour to the tunes definitely gives a chance to showcase the musicianship - always tight and generally impressive.

The problem with Grohl's brief drum solo, with an extended keyboard piece from Jones and from a guitar intro courtesy of Alain Johannes (the Vultures extend to a quartet for live performances) is that nothing is added, beyond length to the set-list.

There is a lot of filler material where nothing is coloured in or around, nothing of value comes from the added pieces - it is jam-band excess. Indulgent and directionless.

Homme is a talented guitar player but he has no personality in his playing; when he offers a fine line in blues-boogie or sharp rock there is no stomp or swagger to go with it.

Grohl is a competent drummer, in fact a very good rock drummer - and better suited to that position than any of his attempts elsewhere on a stage - but because he has led the very successful Foo Fighters and has made sporadic returns to the kit, he is seen as some kind of drum-god; heir apparent to the Bonham throne.

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* What did you think of Them Crooked Vultures? Post your comments below.

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- The Dominion Post

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