What happened when Queens Of The Stone Age headlined Download 2024

Josh Homme’s crew assert their status as rock royalty as they take Download on a trip…

What happened when Queens Of The Stone Age headlined Download 2024
Nick Ruskell
Jenn Five

“Repeat after me,” insists Josh Homme, “I am stoned and fucked up and I feel amazing.” The Queens Of The Stone Age mainman also promises that he and his bands are going to lead Download through “A night that you will never fucking remember.”

The sense of decadence may be more suggestion than reality, but what’s not for up debate tonight is that Queens Of The Stone Age are a fine fit for a headliner here. And this is a night not to be forgotten. Aggressively loud from the outset, with attitude firmly in place and a light show to scramble the brain, it also feels like a band prodded into fifth gear by having something to prove. It makes them absolute dynamite.

Opening with Little Sister, and chucking in a one-two of Go With The Flow and a staggering The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret halfway though, when they detonate the known-quantity bangers, they are unstoppable. Elsewhere, newer stuff from last year’s rejuvenated In Times New Roman sounds ten-storeys tall.

At points the band are as fluid as a river. At others, there’s a bracing tautness off which you could bounce a penny. Both are essential in the ebb and flow. Less so are the segments where Josh, looking less like Jeremy Corbyn than he has done recently, leads the crowd in sing-along, which evaporate the momentum. It’s quickly recovered, but you could have got a Regular John in the space.

Josh himself is in fine fettle. As a knowingly-grandstanding figure, he charms Download with ease. His word to a security guard that “You’re working for me tonight” is about as cool as a pizza oven, but he also looks like he’s having a high old time up there (read that however you fancy). When all of this lands properly and in tandem with the energy they cook up, they are simply astonishing.

Some questioned whether Queens should have been headlining this festival. Too long since they last played, they said, not quite in tune with the fest, they reckoned. Fuck that. Tonight they gave Download both barrels, ending with an absolutely apocalyptic A Song For The Dead that matches its fever-pitch ending with a light show that probably contains a new primary colour.

“You cunts are alright,” laughs Josh, narrowly avoiding sounding like Rodney Dangerfield. Likewise, Queens. Likewise. (NR)

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