Stale beer. Sweat. Smoke. The occasional whiff of dope.
The Foo Fighters already stopped into New Zealand earlier this year. They played a small soldout fundraiser at the Town Hall – something I vaguely remember, somewhere in my post-Christchurch-quake-work-induced-haze, vowing to make the most of by standing outside to listen to the whole thing. The day passed, of course, and I didn’t even realise.
On the other hand, not many bands could fill out Western Springs. I’ve never seen so many people in one place before, and it seemed about half of my workmates snuck out early for that very reason.
And the Foo Fighters did not disappoint. As I expected, it really was the Dave Grohl show, and for good reason – here’s a man who’s been rocking for nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and is better than he was when he started out. Outlandishly talented and larger than life, in my eyes he’s still the best allround musician in the mainstream today.
I’m not a diehard Foo fan and I don’t feel any particular emotional connection to any of their songs on a deep level, but I find something almost spiritual about any good gig. There was plenty of cheering and singing along to their newer hits, but it was the classics that really got the crowd going. All the obvious songs made the playlist – starting with All My Life and, later on, the likes of Best Of You, Monkey Wrench, Learn to Fly and Everlong. Yeah, it was a 2.5 hour set, but it was a tight one. Grohl’s voice is still going strong and his hoarse scream still piercing (even if he can’t hold it as long these days). Did I mention the beautiful guitars that got some air time?
The rain, the mud, the pyramid of crushed plastic cups that mounted by my feet – none of that mattered. T, me and 50,000 other people were enthralled and thoroughly entertained. The crowd went wild when they announced they’d be shooting live footage for new song These Days (Grohl’s favourite, apparently – the lyrics feel a little forced, but they work, I suppose). Oh, and did I mention that we all made the ground shake – volcanically?
If I needed any proof that these guys know how to put on a show, it was their sudden departure from the stage with a quick “thank you”, followed by a “backstage” video that flickered across the screens in which the band grinned and mimed as we yelled and cheered for more, bargaining for an encore.
Best of all? Tenacious D (the main opener) reappeared during the encore, Jack and Kyle prancing around in their underwear, bellies wobbling all over the place. (Another earlier highlight? Everybody mouthing along to Tribute – an anthem of my high school days.)
If ever there was a musician I’d like to have a drink with, it would probably be Dave Grohl and Jack Black. I’m a big fan of the Chilis (in their Frusciante days), Kirk Hammett and Slash, but they just don’t strike me as the kind of characters these guys are.
Grohl, you’re a class act. Keep on keeping on.