El Mocambo, Toronto - May 9, 2008

JASON MACNEIL -- Special To Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 PM ET

TORONTO -- While it was dubbed "A Night You'll Never Remember," it will probably be a night few lucky enough to get into Toronto's El Mocambo won't soon forget.

Queens Of The Stone Age staged a special, last-minute show at the hallowed club Friday evening as part of their current Canadian tour behind last year's Era Vulgaris album. And despite leaving the stage after roughly 70 minutes, the set put them in good standing with the Stones, Elvis Costello and others who played the legendary club.

Led by singer and guitarist Josh Homme, the California quintet had any slight kinks worked out by the time they hit the chorus of Misfit Love. Homme and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen set the tone for the evening with some great guitar work that was loud, punishing but simultaneously so gorgeously tight.

But while Homme's vocals seemed a hair buried in the mix early on, it didn't detract from the ensuing foot-stomping Monsters In the Parasol from the band's 2000 album Rated R which garnered some well-deserved applause from the appreciative head-bobbing horde.

SPACE ROCK

After stating that "tonight's the night for vodka," Homme and company dove into Into the Hollow, another track from Era Vulgaris but with a foundation based in late '60s space rock which slowed the momentum momentarily.

Not wasting any time and keeping the guitar tunings and breathers to a bare minimum, Queens Of The Stone Age treated this show like any other they've done on tour. Yet it was nice to see them in such a small venue despite the fact they're more than capable of making larger venues like the Air Canada Centre or Sony Centre For The Performing Arts (where they performed last fall) feel like a much smaller room.

Perhaps that's due in large part to the current version of the band, one Homme seems quite at home with and for damn good reason. Whether it was on the slow, plodding opening to Mexicola which shifted things back into high gear or the rat-a-tat-tat drumming from Joey Castillo during Avon, the sum was far greater than the stellar parts each member contributed.

Having wrapped up the powerful, unrelenting Walkin' On the Sidewalks, the band shone on 3's & 7's, one of the more radio-friendly numbers they can basically churn out in their sleep. Probably the only clunker of the night was the slower, groove-riddled Make It Wit Chu, a "song about f--king" according to Homme which sounded like a bad homage to the Bee Gees.

ROCKING KEYBOARD

With bassist Michael Shuman and keyboardist Dean Fertita wearing the same sweaty sheens on their faces as the other three, Queens Of The Stone Age tore into the final songs, beginning with the intense Battery Acid and the equally raucous Sick, Sick, Sick that had Fertita rocking his keyboard back and forth, nearly toppling it over.

If there was one downside, it was that the band left the audience wanting so much more. There would be no Little Sister, Go With the Flow, No One Knows nor You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire on this night.

However, Queens Of The Stone Age made most feel like they won the lottery with the finale A Song For the Dead that had Castillo working triple time during the song's beginning and hellacious closing.

SUN Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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