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Them crooked rock stars

The Joint’s one-year anniversary show proved that rock is alive and well

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Them Crooked Vultures perform at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel on April 17, 2010.
Photo: Erik Kabik Photo / Erik Kabik

Up on the second balcony of The Joint during Saturday night’s Them Crooked Vultures show, a woman was getting into it. Dressed in jeans and a cropped shirt she whipped her hair around her and danced in a style reminiscent of a 1970s rock-doc. It was hypnotizing.

And she wasn’t the only one rocking out. Opposite the anonymous fan, Them Crooked Vultures also were feeling it, albeit with a bit less hair action, except for drummer Dave Grohl, whose furious head swinging might have given a lesser man whiplash. But this was not a night of weak-necked men or half-hearted rock. Them Crooked Vultures are what media folk love (and musicians loathe) to call a supergroup — singer Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. In case you’re wondering where in that list you should scream the loudest, it’s when we get to Mr. Jones. Ready? Woot! Woot!

Them Crooked Vultures @ The Joint

Indeed, despite his talented band mates — and the addition of none-too-shabby utility man Alain Johannes on guitar — the Vultures’ two-hour Joint performance likely could have been called The John Paul Jones Show and drawn the same crowd. If we’d had one of those hokey noise-o-meters the mere mention of John Paul Jones’ name would have cracked the red zone, and not without reason. Jones easily was the star of the Joint’s one-year anniversary show, taking turns on at least half a dozen instruments, including keyboard, keytar, something fiddle-ish and more varieties of bass than I previously knew existed. The man’s got chops to spare and an instrument closet out of a music geek’s wet dream.

As the foursome played through songs off their self-titled first album like “Dead End Friend,” “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I" and “Bandolier,” each band member added their own ingredient to a solid rock stew that ricocheted between blues, psychedelic and hard rock without ever sounding unnatural. The Vultures don’t genre hop so much as they slip into each style like they’re putting on a well-made coat. Somehow, they all fit.

And they play the role of rock stars just as easily. Josh Homme in particular performs with so much swagger he practically could style his hair with it. Without coming off like a total jerk, the man smoked cigarettes mid-set, wished everyone would get laid and swigged vodka straight from the bottle. When he said he’d been kicked out of nearly every bar and club in town, I was inclined to believe it wasn’t all talk.

When it was time for the Vultures to take their leave, Homme explained that the band does not do encores — the whole pretend-not-to-know-we’re-coming-right-back song and dance. We just put it all out there, he said, announcing that they were about to start their final song. An enthusiastic boo rose from the crowd.

“Don’t do that,” Homme said with a smirk. “You sound dickish.”

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