Live Review

Reading & Leeds 2009: Them Crooked Vultures, Reading Festival

First impressions - fearsomely good.

Every year some wag starts rumours about a secret set by some unfeasible, huge band at Reading Festival. Usually it’s Green Day, sometimes Foo Fighters. At least this year they’re sort of close. Ish.

Being truthful, everyone has pretty much known Them Crooked Vultures would be showing up for days. Even before their appearance supporting Arctic Monkeys at Brixton Academy it seemed nailed on, but when times are announced featuring a massive rock supergroup shaped gap in the middle of the day, it’s hardly going to be for a sit down and a cup of tea, is it?

Obviously, any supergroup featuring Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones is going to back out a tent, and from the word go it’s very much their show - guitarist Alain Johannes somewhat separated from the trio. Big screens flash up the first shots to deafening cheers, the entire festival seemingly excited to see a band of which they know precisely zero.

It’s no surprise what’s on offer. Opener ‘Elephant’ is packed with riffs, but easily outdone with ‘Gunman’, Grohl on drums shaking the ground like some fifty story high monster. ‘Daffodils’ could be described as an epic, but certainly not as delicate as the title suggests, while closer ‘Nobody Loves Me (And Neither Do I)’ ends up in somewhat of a jam session; just the kind you feel privileged to watch.

It’s impressive, bewitching, but somewhat hard to judge. The crowd is wild, and first impressions are great, but even a bunch of living legends need to be judged in the cold light of day and not from the center of a hysterical rock circus. First impressions though - fearsomely good.

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