Blistering heat, big tunes and one of rock’s biggest icons on the planet today, Queens of the Stone Age enlivened a London crowd for a day that many won’t be forgetting anytime soon for a variety of reasons.
Before we delve into the bands, the lack of organisation behind this event has to be addressed. With 30 degree sun scorching down on the park field, 45,000 people will need hydrating. Almost every bar in this event had queues easily in excess of one to two hours just for a simple beer, leaving many missing their favourite artists and unwilling to even stick around for the headline set. Organisers, Festival Republic, say this was due to over 40% of their designated bar staff not turning up. However, it does have to be questioned that with even a little more organisation, this could have easily been avoided. Likewise, an incredible level of admiration for the shorthanded staff who were constantly working throughout the day.
Now, drinks and overheating aside, onto the bands. With so much going on, kicking my day off was Miles Kane, who in preparation for his upcoming release, Coup De Grace, was more than eager to blast out a few tunes off the latest record. Miles’ energy and persona on stage is phenomenal and could not have been a better way to get things moving. Following on was possibly my personal highlight of the day, Swedish rockers and absolute lunatics, The Hives. The band brought their legendary amount of eagerness and insanity to a willing crowd, creating a perfect combination of rock and roll goodness. Full of classic tunes such as ‘Tick Tick Boom’ and ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, both the band and crowd were nonstop jumping whilst vocalist, Pelle Almqvist, proclaimed himself as the new king of “Great Brexit” in the most brilliantly arrogant way possible. Not a set I will be forgetting anytime soon for all the right reasons.
With the day fully underway, it would be a tough job for any band to follow what The Hives had just managed, yet Run The Jewels certainly gave it their all. Whilst clearly a very different style to The Hives, there is no refuting Run The Jewels’ charismatic energy as the two-piece rappers bounce across the stage, working the crowd up into a sheer state of pandemonium which was undoubtedly the boost many needed to keep their day rolling smoothly. If Run They Jewels weren’t enough to get things moving, the legendary Iggy Pop would be sure to crack a smile. As the 71-year-old hero comes stumbling out onto the stage, he breaks into ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ by The Stooges and is met with a torrent of cheers and applause. The set continued to be pure anarchy through other hits such as ‘Lust For Life’, ‘Search and Destroy’ and a surprising rendition of Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’ to finish, where Iggy proceeded to smash his microphone stand into the stage floor. Iggy could not have been a more suited support to what was still to come and made for a definite highlight to the day for so many.
With the sun begging to set over the dusty field, bursting into view with ‘Do It Again’, the madness immediately restarts as Queens of the Stone Age enter stage and unleash the sheer intensity of their sound. Drinks ceaselessly begin flying across the crowd and mosh pits open all around, it’s instantly clear how much this band mean to so many. From here, the set diverts into a series of tracks from across the band’s 22-year discography, showcasing tunes from not only Songs For The Deaf, but Rated R and of course their 2017 release Villains, with tracks such as ‘The Way You Used To Do’ and ‘The Evil Has Landed’, bringing forth yet another blur of brutally intense riffs and energetics from the crowd.
As the set continues to shift its momentum, vocalist Josh Homme takes a moment to appreciate the opportunities the band have been given over the years. The show only seems to bounce from strength to strength, with a sudden surprise play through of the anthem ‘No One Knows’, as 45,000 people chant in unison in a deafening manner. With so many tunes being blasted, it’s almost hard to see what the band can do next, yet, as the set ends with ‘Little Sister’, the demand for an encore is overwhelmingly powerful and the band respond with ‘Song For The Deaf’ and ‘Song For The Dead’ to finish. This final flourish is possibly one of the rowdiest pits I’ve ever seen and features crowd surfing, moshing and circle pits on an incomparable scale, with boots in the air and devil horns raised high, the crowd release the very last of their energy in a chanting of riffs and brutality. Queens have more than done their job tonight.
All in all, despite the dire drink situation and lack of organisation, Queens of the Stone Age and all of the other bands playing today have given it their all to put on a phenomenal show and all achieved so in a sublime manner. An evening with Queens is certainly not one to overlook and it is the kind of evening I’d recommend everyone to experience at least once. It is shows like this which will stand the test of time and still have people talking about them in 20 year’s time.