Queens of the Stone Age told those of us in the audience at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium to “keep your eyes peeled,” but they probably didn’t need to.
The room was packed Friday night, full of eager fans yearning to catch tracks from this summer’s phenomenal …Like Clockwork live. The band performed the new material almost in its entirety, interspersed with a slew of old favorites like “No One Knows,” “Little Sister” and “Sick, Sick, Sick.” Whether exercising the will to boogie or engaging in piano balladry, Josh Homme and his rogue’s gallery of talented sidemen executed each number with a charismatic swagger.
This tour marked one of the first appearances of drummer Jon Theodore, formerly of the Mars Volta, Golden and Royal Trux. Taking over from such esteemed peers as Dave Grohl and Joey Castillo, he had a heavy burden to bear, but refused to disappoint as he savaged his drum kit like a cougar mauling a hiker. This was never more evident than during set closer “A Song for the Dead,” the outro of which equaled at least four Pritchard Park drum circles at once.
Longtime keyboardist Dean Fertita was another highlight. His piano lines rounded out songs like “In the Fade” and “Kalopsia,” and he even took up alongside Homme and Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar for a few cuts. It doesn’t take a band that wrote an album called Songs For the Deaf to tell you that more guitars mean everything gets louder, and consequently that louder is better. Fertita’s true moment in the limelight came in the form of “…Like Clockwork,” a harrowing piano cut on which he took lead vocals.
The band performed before an enormous projection of animations based on …Like Clockwork’s ghoulish artwork. Homme’s often biting and morose lyrics were accompanied at times with a murder of crows, demented masked weirdos and a bandaged man falling to his death for a very, very long time.
The audience banged heads to “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire,” waved lighters to “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and got close for “Make It Wit Chu,” the Queens’ unabashed ode to copulation. In the bitingly cynical “If I Had a Tail,” Homme quips, “when you own the world, you’re always home.” That night, Homme and company unquestionably owned Asheville. The rest has yet to be seen.
Photos by Daniel Coston.