Queens Of The Stone Age, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

With Joey Castillo, the drummer, making Animal from The Muppets look apathetic, you can't fault his or his bandmates' commitment. But the Queens are initially dogged by a muddy sound-mix that never quite rights itself. Unfortunately, this means that "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" and "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" - gems from the band's 2000 breakthrough album, Rated R - pass in clamorous anonymity; only briefly savouring Homme's fine vocals.

The sonic bludgeoning continues on "First it Giveth (Then it Taketh Away)". Though the Academy's convex floor is vibrating and the crowd are pumping arms skyward, their inability to compete with the band for volume renders them somewhat passive. Some boozed-up punters have lost themselves in the eye of the hurricane, but others, you sense, are suffering from interaction deprivation.

Thankfully, and eventually, Homme does address the crowd again. "We decided to film tonight, so smile and wave at the camera," he says some 90 minutes in. It's not what you'd call inspired stage banter, but the fans seize upon it as though it were a personal invite to dinner.

The group then rallies with strong performances of "In My Head" and the gloriously primal "Burn the Witch". Sadly, it's too little, too late; the Queens' aggregate performance wielding the knife with too little subtlety.

QOTSA play the Reading Festival tonight, Leeds Festival tomorrow