Royals Tour: Queens of the Stone Age Cross Canada

While Canada is rarely excluded from the big tours, only Toronto, Vancouver and/or Montreal tend to get a stop. Being a hop from a variety of large eastern cities, Toronto seems to benefit the most. But smaller cities in the Prairies or the Maritimes haven’t historically been locations of the big shows. However, Canadian tours are normalizing as international touring acts are hitting the minor league ice barns in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Truro with regularity. Distances mean fewer shows in as many days as a US East Coast routing offers, but clearly, the value of playing bigger venues in smaller towns is rising.

One of a few bands currently crossing Canada is Queens of the Stone Age in support of their eighth album, 2023’s In Times New Roman. While the band visited Vancouver and Toronto on the first 2023 leg of the tour, this year took the Queens to Japan, Australia and New Zealand before starting the Canadian tour in Calgary. The closest they got to Toronto was a stop on April 8th in Oshawa, ON, approximately 45 minutes east. Playing at Tribute Communities Centre, the home of the Oshawa Generals, while many in the audience made the trek from the GTA, clearly the hometown support was greater.

As with them all, the setlists vary from show to show as Josh Homme believes each performance needs to stand alone as its own to ensure his audience gets an experience. On this night, after walking out to Peggy Lee’s Smile, QOTSA launched into Regular John from their debut self-titled album. By the end of the night, each of the band’s eight albums were represented. Songs For The Deaf took the belt with a quarter of the 20-song set including Go With the Flow, No One Knows and God Is In The Radio, dedicated to friend and former bandmate Mark Lanegan, who died in 2022. The latest album, In Times New Roman was highlighted by Emotion Sickness, Paper Machete and the fantastic Carnavoyeur.

Mid-set, Homme referring to the day’s events, said “Put on your solar eclipse glasses and take your LSD, it’s request time”. After polling the audience, the band played Sick, Sick, Sick followed by Time & Place. The often-humorous and punny frontman took it a step further, picking up his setlist and tearing it to pieces saying “We’ll play whatever you want. I wanna have something special for us all. Do what you wanna do!”  On the heels of a challenging few years following a divorce, the death of nine friends, treatment for cancer, and reportedly finding sobriety last year, Homme is clearly a man on a mission buoyed with hope and a seeming lightness and focus.

The Canadian portion of the End Is Nero tour continues tonight in Quebec City, with a stop in Moncton before ending in Halifax on April 17. Spring shows continue scattered in the US before the summer’s European festival tour ends slated shows on the books for the year. More info here.

Aron Harris
Aron Harris is ADDICTED Magazine's music editor as well as a contributor. As a graphic designer, writer and photographer, you can find his work all over ADDICTED. He also geeks out over watches, pizza, bass guitars and the Grateful Dead.