Queens of The Stone Age – Spark Arena: February 29, 2024 (Concert Review)

Queens Of The Stone Age brought summer to an end in a big (and loud) way at Auckland’s Spark Arena. The 13th Floor’s Oxford Lamoureaux was there to take note.

After years of waiting and countless missed opportunities, it’s finally happened; I’ve finally managed to take my dad along to a gig, the immortal rock star that he is in his own right.

Of all the gigs I’ve reviewed over the years, it’s fitting that it should be Queens of The Stone Age, with decades of shared appreciation that began with me giving my best, pre-music-journalism review of Rated R when he introduced me to it at 13 (“You could have chosen someone who could sing,” I’m alleged to have said in my moody youth).

Since then, I’ve seen Queens (as I shall affectionately refer to them) a few times, notably at The Big Day Out (RIP) where I had the chance to be metaphorically digested in the middle of a mild mosh pit while watching Josh Homme playfully sneer with all the charm of a peak-career Johnny Cash.

My memories of Queens are almost entirely positive, which makes these three initial paragraphs an absolute mess of potential misfortune when choosing to review them again but, as always when I begin with an anecdote, I promise that the inclusion will be worth it in the end.

Earth Tongue

With doors opening at a bright-eyed 5:30 p.m. I wasn’t surprised to see the arena less than half full when the first opening act, Earth Tongue, took to the stage. Featuring Ezra Simons and MermaidensGussie Larkin, I was immediately impressed by the sheer volume of noise that came from the duo on stage.

A heavy, grim rock sound I’d compare to early performances of The White Stripes, their opening set was a glorious mixture of heavy distortion and clean, thick drums that cut through both the guitar and Larkin’s vocals – so thick that, correct me if I’m wrong, I’m pretty sure Simons broke a drumstick mid-song before diving immediately into the remainder of their set.


Self-proclaimed Goons and Western Australia degenerate rockers, Pond, performed in the mid slot, another psychedelic rock band that I’ll no doubt be listening to on repeat for a few weeks before sifting them into a number of regular-rotation playlist. Particularly notable was lead singer Nick Allbrook, combining the grace of a young Mick Jagger with the uncontrollable chaos and calamity of an Iggy-and-Ozzy hybrid on stage.

Gorgeous basslines, growing bass, and ultra-heavy distorted guitar somehow blended into wet funk-rock bass and a melty 70s disco vibe. Bold, impressive, and immediately engaging with the crowd’s energy, my personal stand-out would have been the Zeppelin-styled tune, Neon River, complete with the many physical stage acrobats performed by Allbrook throughout.

Queens Of The Stone Age

And before long, it was time for the lights to dim and a recording of Peggy Lee’s Smile to echo through the now-packed Spark Arena, before the roar of the crowd welcomed Queens of The Stone Age on stage as they immediately dove into the sharp, truncated guitar riff of No One Knows. In comparison to my review of The National last weekend, Queens created that abundance of energy from their first moments performing to the crowd, barely letting up throughout the two-hour setlist despite the remarkable and one-of-a-kind crowd performance antics of lead singer, Josh Homme.

Their setlist featured a broad collection of their work over the years, with the deep and instantly recognisable bass of The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret leading into overlapping and overwhelming guitar layers in Smooth Sailing, while the latter part of the set grew increasingly raw-rock heavy, with Emotion Sickness and Burn The Witch tying together nicely into Carnavoyeur and then the wild slides of Way You Used To Do.

But it was the final third of the set that created one of the most memorable gig experiences in recent and distant memory, with Homme spending much of the evening slowly warming up the crowd with increasingly blunt but beautifully sincere engagement before Straight Jacket Fitting saw him leap off stage into the photographer pit, seranading the front row of the standing section before slowly walking his way to the edge and disappearing into the crowd.

The intimacy, connection, the direct engagement with the audience is what made this gig so incredibly special, as Homme reminded the crowd that – despite there being countless great artists to visit Auckland recently – they had all chosen to be here, and that this was all that mattered, this night, this moment, together. Closing out with Make It Wit Chu that blended a little touch of The Stones’ Miss You, God Is In The Radio, Go With The Flow and the beautifully brutal finale of A Song for The Dead, it was the moments of engagement that stuck with me the most.

There’s a sentiment in all of his conversation with the crowd that lingers with me now as I type this review; that with everything going on in this increasingly wild and wacky world we live in, it takes genuine and considered effort to just be present and experience something completely and authentically.

Sometimes, it requires guitar riffs, drums, and bass so brutal that your skull vibrates, or a gorgeous still-that-peak-Johnny-Cash-charm rockstar to drag you on stage from the crowd; but when it happens, you stop feeling like you’re watching a show, or a performance. You remember that you’re just watching another group of (albeit, talented) musicians creating something visceral and almost tangible that you can engage with and experience.

I could go into the minutiae of everything that was said and extend this review over another 1,000 words, but all I keep coming back to is how this is a gig that will stick in my soul and remain in my memory likely for the rest of my life. Because, despite everything at stake and everything that could have made me regret countless moments in this evening, it was exactly what I needed it to be; a uniquely brilliant and emotionally recalibrating experience.

And it’s this fact that makes Queens such an incredible band to see and experience live; because no matter your memory or appreciation of their work over the past few decades, and no matter what you are individually trying to escape from or to in your personal life by going to a concert, there’s nothing quite as positively jolting as being forced to remember what’s important in life surrounded by those you love, and nothing so fucking energising for the soul as pure, dirty ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.

 Oxford Lamoureaux

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk:





Earth Tongue:


Pond Setlist:


Americas Cup

Neon River


Human Touch


Giant Tortoise


Queens of The Stone Age Setlist:

Smile (Recording, Peggy Lee song)

No One Knows

The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret

Smooth Sailing

Paper Machete

My God Is The Sun

Emotion Sickness

I Sat By The Ocean

Time & Place

Burn The Witch


Way You Used To Do

I Appear Missing

3s & 7s

Straight Jacket Fitting

Make It Wit Chu (Including The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You”)

Little Sister

God Is In The Radio

Go With The Flow

A Song for the Dead