Saturday, November 21, 2009

Letter: Vultures concert in Oakland disappoints

The following letter to the editor has been submitted by a first-time writer to With his permission, it is printed here.
Hi Steve:
I read your site pretty regularly, as I've been a huge Zep fan since my teen years in the 70's. Great job, thanks, and keep up the good work!

I attended the Them Crooked Vultures concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland last night, and while I hate to say it, I was pretty disappointed. Hell, maybe I'm just starting to show my age, but I felt thoroughly bludgeoned after listening to 2 full hours of this audio assault. The musicianship was first rate, of course; Jonesy was in fine form, Grohl was amazing on drums, Homme was economical & efficient on lead guitar. However, Homme is definitely a one-note singer, and has absolutely no charisma as a frontman. There was a great deal of sameness and pitch to most of the songs as well.

Must admit, we had terrible seats (rear balcony), so perhaps the show sounded much better elsewhere - but there was just no melody in these songs. It was great seeing John Paul and Dave enjoying themselves, and I'm sure true metal heads will be happy with this music, but for me, acoustic instrumental or piano solo here & there would have been nice, if only to give the ears some momentary piece.

I saw J.P. Jones play with Mutual Admiration Society a few years back in San Francisco; gotta say, that show was immensely better than what I heard last night. Just wondering if I'm really missing something here.

-Greg Whelchel
San Jose, CA

In my reply to Greg, I asked whether he had purchased or listened the TCV album prior to attending his concert. He also gave me some more background and opinions:

I'm a hard-core Zeppelin fan - I even suffered through most of those dreadful Robert Plant tours in the early & mid 80's before he finally came to this senses and started tossing in a few Zep numbers every show! A prima donna to be sure, but ya still gotta love ol' Rob. I skipped the Page/Plant shows in the late 90's, didn't like the way Jones had been treated during "Unledded", so that was my protest of sorts.

To your question:
I had only watched some YouTube clips of TCV, as well as the footage from your site prior to the show. The CD was being sold at the show for $14 and they were even giving away $2 off coupons, so a great deal there. A kid next to me had purchased the CD and loved it - said he had played it 4 straight times on a long drive to the show, in order to memorize song lyrics and learn all the song titles - now that's dedication! He was also a big Josh Homme fan, so that kind of fit, and he seemed to love the show. I thought the first two songs of the set were awesome, "Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I" was the first one, but I don't recall the second. After that, seemed like an awful lot of repetition. Just too loud, Josh spoke to the audience a few times but I never could make out a single word of anything he said...I'll get the CD and develop a more informed opinion, I think.

I see where you play in a Zep tribute band - we have a good one in the Bay Area, Heartbreaker. The Plant/Jones/Bonham impersonators are just amazing, but their Jimmy is a little too surly & grumpy and his guitar skills are a little inconsistent. The guy who does Plant even looks like him, if Rob had ever gone to a gym anyways.


Well, for one thing, Greg doesn't seem to be alone. Other Zep fans are also having trouble swallowing this band, which the music critics say sounds very much like Queens of the Stone Age. Fony Fontana posts on For Badgeholders Only today:
Reaction to TCV on Zep boards

I am a little bit amused by a lot of reactions on several zeppelin boards on the TCV album. For some it's obviously a giant leap from to what they are used to. Some reactions on RO are kinda like 'I don't like this modern attempt to raw rock music' to 'I don't listen to loud music anymore..' Really? And these are Zeppelin fans? Come on! Jonesy is probably just a few years older then a lot of these guys and he still likes to play LOUD music.

A lot of people obviously haven't been paying attention to QOTSA and what Josh has been doing. I think he is one of the last innovators in the genre with his 'Robot Rock Riffs'. The TCV album isn't really that far removed from QOTSA. But I guess if you are not used to that, this album is probably a lot to get used to.

I am totally loving this album. And to some: don't act your age, pull out your earplugs and rock out!

Cheers Tony

Well, I happened to be one guy who didn't need to know much of anything by Queens of the Stone Age first, before I raved about the band when I saw them live in Washington, D.C. The sound killed my ears for 24 hours, that's for sure. And I couldn't make out many of the words either, but that's not a problem for me; I'm pretty much a music-first guy anyway. What captured my attention the most was the chemistry that exists between Grohl and each of his bandmates. (And Alain Johannes with Homme.)

Now that I have their CD, I can't wait until the next time I hear "Warsaw" live again! As a matter of fact, my iTunes pre-order came with two official live cuts as bonus tracks. Does anybody know which show they're from (Lowlands, I believe)?

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