What does one of the world’s biggest rock bands do when they land in Adelaide? They book a studio and rehearse for almost five hours straight.

Rather than take in our world-class wine regions or book out an entire restaurant, US rockers Queens of the Stone Age had other plans for Adelaide.

A complete overhaul of the band’s more recent setlists gave us an expansive and new look set from its near 30-year career.

Just after 9pm, frontman Josh Homme’s imposing stature hits the stage, gently swaying his six foot three frame to Peggy Lee’s “Smile” and the swagger is dialled up to 11 before a single note is struck.

The show marked the return of live music to The Drive after more than 15 years, a venue that previously hosted the likes of U2, The Police, INXS, Midnight Oil, Santana, Powderfinger, Jet and the Kings of Leon. And the near sold-out crowd had quite the appetite for a big outdoor show – namely the band’s trademark rock and sludgy blues.

In support of its latest long player In Times New Roman,  the 18-song set was peppered with new material sitting comfortably alongside its now classic early 2000s heavy hitters.

Kicking things off with “The Evil Has Landed” the band ripped through the first portion of the night in straight sets.

Queens of the Stone Age

Josh Homme declared his love for Adelaide at The Drive. Photo: Sam Kelton/InReview

Pulling out some trick shots including “I’m Designer” and the hallucinogenic “I Think I Lost My Headache”, Homme was intent on giving Adelaide a special show for what he says is the best place in Australia.

“I fucking love Adelaide,” he exclaimed.

With a somewhat fan-heavy opening that took us into various nooks of the band’s dark crevasses, it was time to unleash the hounds.

The opening chords of “No One Knows” rang out but were soon drowned out by screams. The newly renovated tennis centre shook under the power of thousands of rock fans jumping, moshing and dancing to a song synonymous with modern rock.

The energy continued with the incendiary “My God is the Sun”, “Sat by the Ocean” and the toe-tapping “The Way We Used To”.

One complaint for much of the night was a muddy mix: it was often hard to hear each band member’s individual performance as opposed to a big dirty wall of noise.

That said, though, the aptly titled “The End is Nero” tour is a loud, sexy and slithering apocalyptic soundtrack.

The sing-along of “Make it Wit Chu” was a highlight as the band pulled out its aces for a winning end to the night.

“Little Sister” wrapped up the main set before the band returned for a three-song encore taking us back to where it all began with 1998’s “Regular John” before  “Go With the Flow” and the frantic “Song for the Dead”, dedicated to the late Mark Lanegan who’s voice was synonymous with arguably the band’s greatest body of work.

Tom Jones, Incubus and Live are set to play in the coming weeks and the revamped stadium has given Adelaide a new live music destination, a festival vibe with arena amenities.

With more acts to be announced for the venue in coming months, last night’s crowd may have just gotten the ringing out of their ears by then… just.

Queens of the Stone Age played at The Drive on February 13.

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