Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) brought the first leg of their The End is Nero tour to Pittsburgh. It’s their first North American headlining tour in half a decade.
The band takes the stage to Peggy Lee’s “Smile”. Frontman Josh Homme sways and dances as the song finishes and the band launches into their iconic hit “No One Knows.”
If there was any concern in the crowd that we might not hear the biggest QOTSA hits, Homme removed all doubt on a recent Tuna on Toast with Stryker podcast appearance. He described an appreciation for his fans and a refreshing understanding of their expectations.
The band follows with a thumping version of the distortion-heavy “Sick, Sick, Sick” from their ‘Era Vulgaris’ album. A pair of tracks from ‘…Like Clockwork’ (“Smooth Sailing” & “My God is the Sun”) precede the first taste of the new album.
Homme hums the rhythm of “Emotion Sickness” similar to the studio track on their latest album, ‘In Times New Roman.’ They would play a total of four tracks from the new release (“Carnavoyeur”, “Paper Machete”, and “Negative Space”).
After “If I Had a Tail”, fans were treated to “Into the Hollow” which hasn’t seen regular rotation in setlists since 2011.
Homme invites the crowd to dance by reciting an explicitly modified (and humorous) version of Men Without Hats “Safety Dance” chorus before the dance-worthy “The Way You Used to Do” – the only song played from 2017’s ‘Villains’ album. I’m told a personal favorite of mine from that album, “Feet Don’t Fail Me”, was played during soundcheck, but has yet to crack an official setlist.
Homme gets another laugh from the crowd as he points out the abrupt subject matter transition in between the end of the break-up song “Paper Machete” and the beginning of the much more amorous “Make It Wit Chu”.
Another refreshing take from Homme comes when he tells the crowd that they are going to forego the tired tradition of the band walking off stage and coming back to play the encore. He explains he prefers to stay out there and just keep playing.
I couldn’t tell if the venue’s sound wasn’t picking up the cowbell on “Little Sister” or whether Jon Theodore skips it entirely on the present-day live version.
Frequent closers “Go With the Flow” and “Song for the Dead” finish up the 17-song set from a band firing on all cylinders. Homme and the rest of QOTSA have stated their appreciation of the fans and this night the feeling is audibly mutual.