The really great thing about the Foo Fighters is that every single song is a crowd pleaser!
I was a bit tardy, only turning up as Rise Against were finishing, they seemed to have gone down fairly well but of course the reason everybody was there was for the main event. Dave and the guys strode onto the stage at eleven minutes to eight with a heavy dose of overdriven feedback assaulting the crowds’ ear-holes, this went on for a while before the introductory riff from Something from Nothing, the opening track of Sonic Highways, got going.
If you’ve listened much to the new album, you’ll know the band spent a lot of time crafting the songs and drawing on their diverse influences and backgrounds to make them interesting. The short version is that they recorded eight tracks in eight different cities, trying to take on the musical history of each place to shape the tunes. What that actually means, in practice, is that you get the Foo Fighters, but with added Jazz, Blues, Country and Metal. While not necessarily obvious on the first listen it becomes more so the better you get to know it.
What I found most thrilling about the show was that they took their older tracks and “Sonic Highwayed” them, extending the solos, adding extra twiddly bits and generally making them all feel like new versions of the classics you’ve been singing along with for the past two decades. This became most apparent five songs in, while they were playing My Hero. When it came to the solo I think the best way to describe what it became was “Crazy-Ass Heavy Metal”, going on for at least twice as long as normal and sounding slightly like someone had been listening to too much Judas Priest (if that’s possible?).
After this madness they slowed Big Me down into a low-fi sing-along, then proceedings got back to normal as they went back to their full throttle, happy go lucky pop rock, laying into Congregation, which seems to have been on repeat on every radio station playlist of late, the audience were well pleased by this stage and enjoying every note.
At the end of Walk, they took a short break. Not leaving the stage but having a bit of a chat with the audience, each other and a bit of an introductory session, not that it was really necessary. It did, however, mean that we got treated to some incredible fretwork from lead guitarist Chris Shiflet, followed by a bass led rendition of Another One Bites the Dust from Nate Mendel.
Mr Grohl then told the story of why the gig had moved dates. Holding the crowd in the palm of his hand, he explained how the father/daughter dance at his kid’s school, back in the USA, had been scheduled at the same time as the concert, so he moved the concert! Partly in order to be a good (great) Dad, and partly because he didn’t want to leave those of us in the boon-docks of Australia without our fix of amazing rock. Of course, this greatly endeared him to everyone there and has made him seem like even more of a hero than we thought he was anyway. What a guy!
He went on to let us know that he had also contracted food poisoning and had spent the entire flight back to Perth in the plane toilet, trying to remove the bacterial invaders in a not too pleasant manner. This piece of information was provoked when the crowd tried to get him to chug the beer he had just picked up. He told the story, then did it anyway. What a guy!
We got back to business as usual then (the act, rather than the Men at Work album), Cold Day in the Sun followed, with what can only be called a “funky” solo. The next sonic addition was putting a fantastic Led Zeppelin-esque solo into Monkey Wrench before starting the excellent “one last thing before I quit” breakdown, or is it a breakup in this case?
If you’ve been to one of their gigs before (and in Dave’s words, ‘we’ve been doing this for twenty years, why the f**k not?”) then you wouldn’t have been surprised when the acoustic guitar came out, with Dave heading for a small raised platform in the centre of the stadium. He sang an almost solo rendition of Skin and Bones, joined at the end by their gigging piano player Rami Jaffee, who gave us a stirring accordion accompaniment. The rest of the band then rose from below, on a lifting platform, to join them for an acoustic Times like These.
Next was the covers section of the show, Stay with Me by the Faces, Let There be Rock by AC/DC and last, but definitely not least, Under Pressure by Queen with Taylor Hawkins and Dave singing together.
The last five tracks were all by the Foos, including a rip roaring Pink Floyd style outro on These Days, and a chance for Outside, arguably, the best song on Sonic Highways, to be set loose and thrown into a clear blue sky to have its freedom and escape the confines imposed on it by the recording process. It was pretty amazing.
The Best of You had a long slow, relaxed finish and then the final song of this tour was delivered, without too much astonishment, by a rip-roaring Everlong, the crowd went wild, and then went home as, apparently, encores aren’t the done thing at the nib Stadium. Which is a shame, because everybody there seemed to have had a great time and would have stayed on longer if given the chance, including the band.
Something from Nothing
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
Skin and Bones
Times like These
Stay with Me by the Faces
Let There be Rock by ACDC
Under Pressure by Queen
All my Life
Best of You