Queens of the Stone Age at Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, Saturday 4 November 2023

I have to admit that I wasn’t super looking forward to this gig. I had bought my ticket months ago when they went on sale, and because Ticketmaster had blocked resale through their site, the cost was already sunk. The venue was the Ziggo Dome, which is not my favourite. I’ve been feeling burned out and exhausted lately, and a whole evening of Ziggo Dome including travel there and back was not appealing. I’d enjoyed the lead singles from In Times New Roman, but I didn’t feel the rest of the album was their strongest material.

On the other hand, I pretty much always enjoy seeing live music when I get there, and my principle that “you should always take the opportunity to see your favourite band live because you never know when they’ll split up, or die” still holds. I’ve been into the Queens since Rated R in the early 2000s, and so many of their songs are keystones of my playlists when I feel like something hard and heavy. So over the last week I spent some more time with the new album, and got myself a bit more in the mood by reading reviews of their recent North-American gigs, exploring the tour’s set lists on setlist.fm, and discovering that they have a long tradition of high quality, limited edition, venue-specific tour posters.

I’m nothing if not a merch fiend, so I made sure that I got to the Ziggo dome when doors opened. Indeed, the merch was very good. I bought a poster by artist David D’Andrea and a T-shirt, stashed them in a locker, and went and sat myself down for the next four and a half hours. It was still super early, and I’ve never seen the Ziggo dome so empty.

British band Deep Tan came on at 19:15 and played a hypnotic half hour set. After a short break, Australian punks The Chats speed-ran twenty songs in thirty minutes, each one exactly the same as the last. The baby mosh pit in front of the stage seemed to enjoy it, but it seemed awfully bland to me.

The Queens of the Stone Age started their set a little later than expected at 21:20. They opened with some strong crowd-pleasers, and played more songs from the new album than I’d expected based on their North-American set lists. The band were in good form, but the crowd felt lukewarm. Maybe the energy would have been better down on the floor, but up high the mood felt a bit distant. The biggest reception was for their thundering fan favourites like “No-One Knows”, “My God Is The Sun”, and “Little Sister”. “Better Living Through Chemistry” was a hypnotic slow burn to start with, followed by a colossal crashing wall of guitars to end the brooding pause in the middle of the song. Worth putting up with the Ziggo Dome to hear some of my favourite songs live and up close like that? Yes.

A new thing I tried at this gig was to use my Apple Airpods Pro (second generation) as hearing protection instead of the usual foam earplugs I bring with me. The “transparency mode” feature of the Airpods is better than anything else I’ve tried, and in household or office situations it sounds almost like I’m not wearing anything at all. In high noise situations the transparency mode applies a cap on loudness, but does it in a smart way, such that the music still sounds clear rather than muffled. It’s still loud, but not deafening. Throughout the gig I tried listening with the pods in and out, with transparency mode and noise cancelling, and processing off entirely. Transparency mode is definitely a winner.

There are some processing artefacts: sometimes they have trouble keeping up with rapid loudness changes, and sometimes the processing in my left and right ears would be slightly different, leading to a wobbly flicker effect. But overall it sounded good in a way that gigs don’t when I’m wearing foam plugs, and at the end of the gig I had no ringing in my ears at all. I’ll be doing this more often from now on, and I’ll be interested to see if this gets even better in future generations of the Airpods.

Also: was I the only person in the whole crowd of 17,000 wearing a mask? Yes, I think I was.

Set List:

  1. Regular John
  2. No One Knows
  3. Smooth Sailing
  4. My God Is The Sun
  5. Emotion Sickness
  6. I Sat By The Ocean
  7. Time & Place
  8. Carnavoyeur
  9. The Way You Used To Do
  10. Better Living Through Chemistry
  11. Sick Sick Sick
  12. Negative Space
  13. Make It Wit Chu
  14. Little Sister


  1. In The Fade
  2. Made To Parade
  3. Battery Acid
  4. Paper Machete
  5. Go With The Flow

See also: