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MUSIC REVIEW

Vultures supergroup gets into a jam

Them Crooked Vultures Led Zepplin great John Paul Jones performing as part of Them Crooked Vultures at the House of Blues on Sunday. (Robert E. Klein for The Boston Globe)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / October 13, 2009

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Led Zeppelin may not be embarking on a reunion tour, but it’s not because John Paul Jones isn’t ready.

Sunday night at the House of Blues the 63-year-old Zep bassist proved more than fit for duty, stepping lively with the new supergroup Them Crooked Vultures through a dynamic 82-minute set.

Jones is clearly jazzed to be joining another thunderous rhythm section, as Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters held down the drum seat with the same combination of skill and mania he exhibited during his tenure with Nirvana. One of the night’s great pleasures was watching Grohl pound away with a Cheshire cat grin, free from frontman pressures. Queens of the Stone Age singer-guitarist Josh Homme led the way with courtly charm and a full arsenal of blistering riffs and dynamic vocals, darting from stoner drone to funky falsetto.

In terms of sheer hard rocking power, the trio, augmented by guitarist Alain Johannes, lived up to the pre-show buzz. This was no mean feat considering the band has yet to release an album - it’s due later this year - and the erratic track record of supergroups in general.

Sensibly, given the personnel, each tune was built on a sturdy guitar lick and anchored by a taut groove. Sometimes the vibe was fast and furious, as on opener “Elephants.’’ A giddy disco energy infected “Gunman.’’ “Spinning in Daffodils’’ was a low-down, grunge-encrusted rocker that gave way to an elegiac Jones piano solo. Several tunes evolved into epic jams spiraling up and down in energy, from short bursts of riffage to longer solos. The expansive yet stomping improv seemed fitting for a band reportedly formed in a medieval-themed restaurant.

As the show progressed, the fatigue of the unfamiliar began to set in - no songs from the musicians’ original groups were performed - but the playing remained top-notch.

The ovation that Jones received from the rapt and heavily male sold-out crowd was shared by his bandmates onstage, who seemed to vibrate with excitement about their good fortune to play with a legend, and one still so nimble at that.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com.

THEM CROOKED VULTURES At: the House of Blues, Sunday

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