Queens of the Stone Age @ The Piece Hall – review

Credit: Cuffe and Taylor & The Piece Hall

Josh Homme is in a playful mood.

The Queens of the Stone Age frontman makes his fifth or sixth innuendo of the evening “With this song you get to clap. But just make you don’t get THE clap,” before they launch into the unmistakeable cowbell intro of ‘Little Sister’.

Homme and his band, considered one of the all time great rock acts, are blessing historic Halifax venue The Piece Hall with their immense and noisy presence. An act of this size may seem incongruous with this venue and this town, considering they’ll be headlining the Other Stage at Glastonbury in just a few days. But this is not merely a warm up gig for the weekend. After a blistering set on a solstice evening, the Piece Hall shows it is more than capable of hosting rock giants like these, and Queens of the Stone Age show they are more than welcome in West Yorkshire.

Credit: Cuffe and Taylor & The Piece Hall

The band thrash through some of their most loved material from a career spanning 25 years. Early career hits ‘Go With the Flow’ and ‘Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ kick things off. Two tracks from 2016’s ‘Like Clockwork’ follow, evidencing the consistency across their 8 albums, whilst the energy from the crowd shows just how well they’ve retained their audience.

Several new songs get a showing, and hold their own within the setlist. ‘Paper Machete’ in particular with, “oh-oh” hooks and joyfully simple start-stop riff shows the pop sound they’ve embraced more and more, but recurring guitar squeals remind us of the band’s nasty stoner rock roots ever-present on recent album ‘In Times New Roman…’

Everything in the set is delivered with the same joy and ferocity. No act straddles chaos and control like Queens – extended abuse of drums and guitars will give way to watertight middle eights and tempo changes. Sometimes there’s just noise, sometimes there’s nothing. And it’s this balance that has made them most interesting hard rock band of the past few decades.

Credit: Cuffe and Taylor & The Piece Hall

They take the greatest pleasure possible however with the deep cuts. Extended sections are added to ‘I Appear Missing’ to make it more ballad-y; on the chugging ‘God Is On the Radio’, the band fades out and builds it back in incredibly, delighting the many Songs for the Deaf lovers in attendance.

A surprise rendition of ‘In the Fade’ from 2000’s sophomore album ‘Rated R’ is dedicated to Mark Lannegan, former guest vocalist for Queens and best friend of the band, who passed away last year. Seeing Homme sing the chorus of “There’s nothing to save and I know, you live ’til you die” in this context makes for a moment that you would never expect at a Queens gig: one that is moving.

These songs are what makes this set special. The band are serving the crowd material they are proud to have written and rarely get to play. With a 25 year career and 8 albums behind them, these songs gift the crowd with nostalgia, a reward for their years of dedicated listening.

Credit: Cuffe and Taylor & The Piece Hall

Josh Homme is as confident as ever, scattering crowd banter and crude sexual references throughout. Perhaps its the intimacy of the Piece Hall, or the fact Homme is finally touring after a long period of personal difficulty, but he looks fully relaxed.

Homme isn’t usually one for sentiment. But after finishing ‘No One Knows’, he announces they band won’t do “all that walking off stage bullshit” as their “having too much fun,” before launching into the Lanegan-dedicated encore. During finale ‘Song for the Dead’, he takes a moment before the breakdown, with the moshpit in suspense, to tell his audience: “Be grateful for the fact you’re still here. Enjoy this moment… your life has brought you here.”

The combination of this stunning small venue, the rarities in the setlist, and Homme’s top-form mood make for a treat of an evening. The Piece Hall now prepares for a string of events this summer, with more big artists booked for every weekend – if any can reach the Queens of the Stone Age standard, then Halifax has a lot to look forward to.


Check out the full programme for the Piece Hall here!