I first witnessed the glory of the Foo Fighters over a decade ago at the Pacific Coliseum. Their performance absolutely floored me: they were energetic and extremely talented. I was thrilled to have another chance to see them as they passed through Vancouver for their Concrete and Gold Tour on Saturday night. I was wonderfully surprised to see that they were even better than I remembered.
The Joy Formidable
Before the Foos came on stage, the audience enjoyed the sounds of The Joy Formidable (a trio from Northern Wales). The alternative rock band played a mix of older songs and newer ones (from their latest release, AAARTH, 2018). They were a fun group to watch; they had a great sound and loads of energy. The Joy Formidable ended their set with an oldie, but goodie, “Whirring.”
The Foo Fighters
The moment finally arrived, the moment everyone in the sold-out arena had been waiting for: the lights dimmed and the audience roared with excitement as Dave Grohl ran onto the stage, followed by the rest of the Foo Fighters.
The group blasted through a number of their popular hits (“All My Life,” “Learn to Fly,” and “The Pretender”), while Grohl ran from one side of the stage to the other, amping up the crowd. He paused briefly during one of the songs only to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a rock and roll show! Do you like rock and roll?” This seemed to be the theme of the night, as Grohl brought this up several times. But the crowd needed no reminders, Grohl’s rockstar yelling and headbanging, the incredible solos, and the sheer volume of the music was enough to let us know. There was no denying it – we were at one helluva rock show.
The group continued hitting the songs hard, playing “The Sky is a Neighborhood” and “Rope.” During the latter, Grohl performed an amazing solo. As he played, he moved back towards Taylor Hawkins (drummer) to have a play off with him. Grohl would play, then Hawkins would play, each getting faster and faster, feeding off one another, seeing who could play it better. (Though lovingly, of course, the two act like brothers while on stage.)
Hawkins then had an opportunity to shine on his own. The platform he was on started to rise as he got further into his solo. He continued playing furiously, with the audience watching and listening in awe.
Grohl really started to interact with the audience at this point in the concert. He mentioned the “little problem” he had earlier in the week in which he couldn’t yell and doctors told him to rest. “But I’m gonna yell!” he screamed, and the audience screamed back with appreciation. He also talked about how the group has been together for almost 25 years, but that “it’s never been this f*cking good.” That, I think is the magic behind the Foos: they’re charming and fun, and so in love with what they do. It’s not hard to understand how they’ve been around for so long.
Grohl introduced the next song by saying, “We’ve got some old school Foo Fighters for you…this one’s for the old school.” They played “My Hero,” my absolute favourite Foos song. Even as I write this, I have chills thinking about that performance.
The group then played “These Days” and “Walk” before Grohl stopped again, this time to introduce each band member. First up was Chris Shiflett (lead guitarist). Turns out he’s an Alice Cooper fan, so Grohl got him to play a cover of “Under My Wheels.” Next up was Nate Mendel (bassist) who played a snippet of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Mendel then introduced “La Dee Da,” which is off the Foo Fighter’s newest album (Concrete and Gold). It was then Rami Jaffee’s turn. The keyboardist performed a solo before introducing the Beatle’s “Imagine.” While Jaffee continued playing “Imagine,” Grohl sang a cover of Van Halen’s “Jump.” Grohl then introduced Pat Smear; the crowd lovingly applauded Nirvana’s touring guitarist. He started with a solo, and then moved into the Ramones’s “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
We’d finally met every member, but one. “And now,” Grohl said, “introducing the love of my f*cking life: Taylor Hawkins.” Hawkins is a Queen fan, so he switched spots with Grohl to sing “Under Pressure.” (Two very lucky ladies from the crowd joined him – one of whom actually sang along with him.)
The Foos continued through newer and older hits, receiving a little more enthusiasm from the crowd for their older tunes. The fans went especially crazy during “Best of You,” continuing to sing long after the instrumentals had ended.
The audience demanded the Foo Fighters’ return to the stage. Before the group came back on though, a live video feed of Grohl played on the screen behind the stage. Grohl started using hand gestures, bringing his hand close to his ear. He was waiting for the audience to scream louder, and we happily obliged. Again, with hand gestures, Grohl jokingly started to negotiate how many songs they would play once back on stage. After agreeing on two, Grohl bolted back on stage, with the rest of the Foos following suit.
The Foo Fighters ended brilliantly with “Times Like These” and crowd-favourite “Everlong.”
A lot has changed in the past decade, but my love for the Foos remains the same. With a heavy heart (and deaf ears), I left the arena along with the rest of the fans. As we piled out, I kept hearing over and over again how incredible the Foos had been, how this was the best concert people had ever seen. I couldn’t agree more.