The cavernous Odyssey Arena – built more for ice hockey and other sporting activities than gigs – is curtained off about two-thirds of the way down its length, indicating that tonight’s gig might be suffering the effects of booking two arena shows within 100 miles of each in two cities with the combined geographic catchment area of, say, either Liverpool or Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
Nevertheless, a healthy crowd have turned out early for low-key (in that many didn’t appear to know there was a third band on the bill until they took the stage) openers Sweethead: they were rewarded with an energetic set of alt-pop crammed with chunky riffs, and topped off with Serrina Sims’ sublimely soulful voice. The only major complaint (apart from the dickheads in the front row shouting the usual sexual profanities at the singer) would be the assumption that everyone knew who the band was, as they didn’t once introduce themselves!
It must be admitted that there were many doubters when it came to Bore… sorry, Snow Patrol guitarist’s Nathan Connolly’s rock credentials: however, any doubters were quickly won over with Little Matador‘s catchy pop-rock sound, with its three-guitar attack and Zakk Wylde-lookalike Dave Magee adding zest with his bluesy, bottom-ended riffing. The highlight of the set, however, was Connolly totally fucking up one of his intros by declaring “this is our first time in Belfast” – something he had to correct later when reminded that his hometown debut at the Belsonic festival over the summer: “how could I forget that?” he lamely apologizes, dismissing the error as “you forget things very quickly when you’re on tour…” Yeah, right!
It’s an eclectic crowd which has crammed into the arena by the time QOTSA’s 60-second countdown tape begins – a handful of metallers mixing with indie-alt-scenester types (complete with their beige slacks!), a smattering of teenage Goths mingling with more mature fans who just appreciate good music when they hear it…
What follows has something to suit everyone, as Josh, Troy, Dean, Michael and Jon plough through a relatively predictable 90+ minute set combining a decent showcasing of their back catalogue – although they were in danger of peaking early with the inclusion of ‘No One Knows’ as only the second track – and their most recent ‘Like Clockwork’ album.
Technically, it’s a stunning show, with extremely high production values, and the illuminated backdrops add atmosphere to the music. While Josh Homme rarely interacts with his audience, the show flows well in terms of pace and for a band who don’t move about much on stage they exude and generate a lot of energy, which washes over the majority of the crowd with the immersive effect of Atlantic breakers on the nearby North Antrim coast (although there are an awful lot of people who seem content to watch the performance of their favourite tracks via their smartphone screens and then compare what they have ‘captured’ with their mates when it comes to a song they don’t recognize! A plague upon their houses!).
The huge sound matches the enormity of the riffs but the overall effect is that of watching one long MTV video as the style of the show often threatens to overtake its actual substance: but, stylistically, it is an extremely good performance, while substantially it also matches up to expectations.
You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire / No One Knows / First It Giveth / My God Is The Sun / Burn The Witch / I Sat By The Ocean / … Like Clockwork / Long Slow Goodbye / If I Had A Tail / Kalopsia / Little Sister / Fairweather Friends / Smooth Sailing / Make It Wit Chu / Sick, Sick, Sick / Better Living Through The Chemistry
The Vampyre Of Time And Memory / Feel Good Hit Of The Summer / A Song For The Dead
The tour (minus Little Matador) continues on the following dates:
Wednesday November 20th – Phones 4U Arena, Manchester
Thursday November 21st – NIA, Birmingham
Friday November 22nd – Wembley Arena, London
Saturday November 23rd – Wembley Arena, London
Photographs by Paul Verner. For more pictures, check out our gallery – http://planetmosh.com/queens-of-the-stone-agelittle-matador-odyssey-arena-belfast-181113/