Them Crooked Vultures Land in Windsor Review - A Rare Breed of Musicianship

As each musical decade breaks from the last and adds yet another chapter to the proverbial history books, we witness how many artists’ song-writing styles become heavily influenced by the era in which they are created. Who can argue that the psychedelic sound that defined the 60’s revealed itself in the works of such legendary acts as The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Yardbirds? Similarly, the obvious parallels within 80’s glam bands such as Poison, Whitesnake and Cinderella as well as 90’s grunge artists Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, were hard to overlook. Fans of more persistent groups spanning multiple decades, however, may have noticed unmistakable musical transformations as both lyrics and music reflected the times. Supporting the theory are ZZ Top and The J. Geils Band, who in the early 70’s, traded in the blues-based muscle of “La Grange” and “Detroit Breakdown”, for the pop-oriented drivel of “Gimme All Your Lovin” and “Centrefold” in the decade to follow.


All this being said, what if we were to select performers from each diverse period to create a super-group which could collectively draw from the past, yet generate a new sound for the future? Please take one step forward John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), David Growl (Nirvana/ Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). The result – Them Crooked Vultures.


Formed in 2009 and currently promoting their Deserve the Future Tour, the Los Angeles-based trio filled the Colosseum in Caesars Casino Windsor with an unquestionably diverse crowd. With main floor seats removed, as per the request of the band, fans came out to support their favourite member as well as the group collectively. With notable applause favouring legendary bassist John Paul Jones during their introductions, it was overwhelming to witness his performance and mastery of the multitude of instruments in his arsenal. Supporting an array of basses including a 4, 10 and 12-string, a solid-body electric mandolin and a bass mandolin all designed by Hugh Manson, Jones reigned supreme and continued to astonish fans with more of his exceptional talent as he banged out the band’s material on violin, keytar and Korg M3 synth complete with Roland bass pedals. Fans also longing to see the now failed reunion of the iconic Led Zeppelin, were more than eager to catch a glimpse of the elusive 64-year-old Jones as his presence was truly felt in the auditorium that evening.


With David Grohl now returning to his position behind the kit after a long absence fronting post-grunge phenomenon The Foo Fighters, his thunderous style of playing was aggressive, yet tasteful. The stamina required in performing at that level and pace for an entire two-hour show was awe-inspiring. Getting the nod for assembling the members of Them Crooked Vultures, Grohl still shined behind his custom DW set and often laughed and joked with fellow band-mates and attendees. What was most interesting was simply seeing Grohl’s performance after having been a fan of 70’s-style drummers such as John Bonham and Keith Moon. Had the generations of musicians not assembled, the experience may not have been possible.


Completing the trio, Josh Homme had his work cut out for him as he provided lead vocals and acted as liaison between the band and their followers. The statuesque 6’5” guitarist appeared humbled in the presence of such greatness, yet with limited vocal range atop ample charisma, he emerged both comfortable and confident. Honorary Vulture and multi-instrumentalist himself Alain Johannes, enhanced the live show as he was enlisted to more accurately reproduce the sound of the band’s self-titled debut album which he, himself helped to engineer. 


Upon leaving such a memorable event, one could not help but wonder if simply seeing these renowned musicians took precedence over the music they performed.  With their repertoire still new to fans, absent of catchy choruses and familiar melodies, can this breed of vultures survive or will they become extinct altogether?

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