The night’s proceedings were kicked off by LA band Sweethead. Sweethead like Them Crooked Vultures is a project from a Queens of the Stone Age member, this time guitarist Van Leeuwen. Announced by a huge lighted sign the band came out to a song from Kill Bill but I can’t for the life of me tell you what it’s called, but it set a great mood for the band. Their lead singer Serrina Sims strutted out in a gorgeous back sequined dress that revealed her perfect pins. She is perhaps the most gorgeous front lady I’ve ever seen. The voice that came out of her when they started their set totally confused me. I could see her singing into the mic but it sounded like a male vocal? Perhaps there were two of them singing, I couldn’t really see but I can tell you that her voice is very deep for a female but had a sexy and moody tone.
In sound and arrangement Sweethead are very similar to “Juliet and the Licks”. Serrina Sims is very similar to Juliet in the way her voice navigated the vocals and the songs themselves have a similar feel to the Licks although Serrina doesn’t have the stage confidence that Lewis naturally commands. At times she appeared uncomfortable and awkward on stage but that could be down to the 5″ stilettos she was wearing. All in all they were well received by the audience despite the vocals being a little bit lost and drowned out by the band. If you like LA rock then they’re definitely worth a look in.
By the time Them Crooked Vultures were about due to take the stage the 02 academy was completely crammed full. Their album “Them Crooked Vultures” has had warm reviews since its release but the anticipation in the crowd suggested that it’s not music fans that have cast the judgement. Normally when bands come out the venue will cut the background music and dim/turn off the lights but in this case Dave Grohl simply walked across the back of the stage and waved to the crowd, for a split second there could have been confusion that he was a roadie, but once the crowd realised who it was the room erupted with cheers. The other member of Them Crooked Vultures soon followed in a similar relaxed and unassuming way. Before their arrival the simple stage set up revealed nothing as to the bands identity, all except a vulture perched atop the drummer’s microphone. When all four band members were on the stage the whole place stood to cheer them. It was like a standing ovation before they had started.
For the first song ‘Nobody Loves Me’, Dave and Josh took lead vocals. There was an immediate feeling that the four musicians had a tight rapport with one another, despite their limited time together. After the opening song Grohl took a big swig of water then tipped the rest over his head (throughout the gig he must have got through 20 bottles of water with this routine).
During ‘Scumbag Blues’, John Paul Jones got his base into the spotlight accompanied by just Dave and his drums, JPJ had a smile on his face that remained there all night; he seemed to watch Josh Homme with a look of awe as if he were the spectator. It’s not hard to understand why. With a natural swagger Josh easily contends with some of the best front man ever. He is so relaxed and at home on the stage, it almost feels like the music is coming out of him.
Being a “Super Group” Them Crooked Vultures hardly needed introducing. But a couple of songs in Josh announced the crowd that the drummer was Dave Grohl, to which he received a deafening applause, when he got to their famous bass player Josh simply pointed his arm toward the man and the applause erupted.
Before they smashed into Gunman Alain Johannes (their honorary live Crooked Vulture) performed a bluesy guitar stint that a young Jimmy Page would have been proud of. The songs themselves all have the same thumping march although each has a different flavour, this doesn’t make for the most exciting gig in the world but definitely a pleasure to watch.
The lighting the band opted for was simple but effective. Square of light dotted at the back at times exploded with the drums like fire balls and at fell like water with the guitars at other. The whole set up was relatively simple and classy and the lighting highlighted the natural sparkle these four men own. There wasn’t any obvious physical binding between them but they were without question as tight as a band can be.
I’ve seen he Foo Fighters before but I’ve never seen Dave Grohl behind the drums before. He looks completely at home there, proof is proof is needed what a talented individual he is. Later on in the gig JPJ played a piano solo (I couldn’t see from where I was but apparently it was tiny).

When Josh announced “this is our last song” the crowd boooooooooooed them, they launched into the thumping ‘Warsaw’ which gradually picked up speed and sent them out with a frenzied bang!!

If you only see 1 gig this year make it “Them Crooked Vultures” one of the best live acts I have seen in a long time. It’s likely the three of them will bag the project before too long so catch them while you can.
Set list:
No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
Dead End Friends
Scumbag Blues
Highway One
New Fang
Mind Eraser, No Chaser
Interlude With Ludes
Spinning In Daffodils

Words by Cherry Barrett
Photography by Bianca Barrett

One Response to “Them Crooked Vultures + Sweethead @ O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK – 14 December 2009”

  1. Wayne Says:

    Great showing here ladies. Bravo!


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