I've been on the fence when it comes to Them Crooked Vultures, and I was hoping the band would push me over the edge into fandom when I saw their show Monday night at the Murat Egyptian Room. On paper the concept is killer: Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Queen of the Stone Age's Josh Homme on guitar and vocals and Dave Grohl on the drum kit. But the band's 2009 self-titled debut came off as a little too much like a Josh Homme solo record, a desert session with really good backing.
Turns out the only thing missing from the mix was a visual element. From the get go, the energy that burned off the locked and loaded Jones and Grohl was mesmerizing. Early in the set, the solid thump of "Scumbag Blues" started out in barn-burning fashion with Homme keeping easy pace with the red-hot engine room behind him. Then the song broke into a free-or-all breakdown, and all Josh could do was try to keep his place.
Still, Homme more then defended his honor, particularly on tunes like "New Fang" and "Elephants" on which his hypnotic guitar leads were scorching. Knowing that he has the goods to confidently front this band, he's magnanimous enough Homme stand aside and let Grohl and Jones steal the show. He let Grohl romp unchecked through "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," and stared slack-jawed as Jones dominated an epic version of "Spinning in Daffodils."
While supergroups like Them Crooked Vultures aren't known for their longevity, this show was a rare treat. Let's hope Jones, Homme and Grohl stick together for a few more rounds.