Joshua Homme, Royal Festival Hall, gig review


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Meltdown curator James Lavelle's introduction of the Queens Of The Stone Age frontman (not Josh tonight) as a “sometime comedian” turns out to be misleading.

More jittery than usual in unfamiliar surroundings, the singer that last played London at Wembley Arena and set to headline this summer's Reading Festival responds to every heckle and anticipates others.

“Your first three albums were your best,” he growls to much laughter. This departure for Homme, unfamiliar with both solo and unplugged sets, allows us to catch a more relaxed side to his often intense persona. On his own, he limbers up with Johnny Cash's 'Dark As a Dungeon' and a sincere, heartfelt take on Dean Martin's 'Memories Are Made Of This'.

Indeed, suited for the occasion, Homme's Rat Pack insouciance survives the arrival of Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar and Gary Numan-style synths. This long-term collaborator brings more heft, especially when the pair are joined by the ever-brooding Mark Lanegan for a couple of numbers, including his own sweetly mournful '100 Days'.

Pared-back settings bring out subtle shades in Homme's own material, notably on the parched country rock of 'Mosquito Song' and the early-Bowie fragility of 'Kalopsia', another showcase for Homme's gorgeous falsetto.