Leeds Festival 2009

The time was 3.30pm on Friday afternoon and options appeared on short supply. Patrick Wolf had just completed a typically bewildering set when a glance at the set times revealed an anomaly; over an hour before the next band was due to step onstage, surely not. However, whether rumour of a dead celebrity or various sports scores, word spreads fast at festivals. Those in the know knew exactly what was coming and with The NME/Radio 1 tent filling nicely, at around 4pm the forthcoming band’s equipment was being readied. The drums were finally being brought out and even prompted cheers; a solitary vulture atop the bass drum skin and for those who thought it folly, their hopes were confirmed. The supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, were indeed playing a set that was no longer secret. One quick look over the shoulder and there seemed no end to the sea of heads fixed in anticipation with hoards spilling outside the tent.

Like giddy children on Christmas Eve, anticipation was almost palpable and then the band walked onstage. Like a fantasy team of musicians there was obvious pedigree evident from the likes of Dave Grohl on drums, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass and Josh Homme on guitar and vocal duties with able backing from guitarist Alain Johannes. Enough about the entrance, the performance itself was impressive even to those who happened to be there by chance. For an outfit who have only been performing for less than a month, the practice seemed to have paid off for a tight, veteran sound. This was hard rock with melodic sensibility, not to mention riffs that bulldoze their way through your conscience. While the likes of ‘Dead End Friends’ and ‘Gunman’ showcased a well defined, ferocious confidence, at times the set hinted at a lighter, more tuneful side, particularly during ‘Daffodils’ which saw Jones on keyboard. Recorded excerpts are scarce yet one track that exerts some degree of familiarity is their closer, the epic ‘Nobody Loves Me (And Neither Do I)’. The only shame of their performance being the early slot, how on Earth do you top that?