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The Kings of Rock return to London with 80,000 pairs of open arms at their sold-out stadium show – “this just keeps getting better and better”.
Our generation has grown up alongside the antics of Dave Grohl et al, and it’s a milestone to any young rocker’s life to see the Foo Fighters live for the first time; on Friday, it was my turn.
Turning up slightly late to the London Stadium (or Olympic Stadium if you’re an OG 2012er), I weaved through the crowds to take my place in the stands. Boasting a capacity of just under 80,000 people, this was the largest gig I’d ever attended in memory. I was overwhelmed by the crowd and the atmosphere that came with it; those happy memories will stay with me for years, or at least until I turn into one of those “I remember my first REAL gig” older rockers. I did notice that the crowd appeared to be largely made up of more mature fans – this was nothing to be unexpected, though it did throw me off at first. I was worried about how a couple of twenty-year-olds would fit in surrounded by Foo veterans. My anxieties were quickly wrapped up as I found myself chatting to all who would listen about how I’d grown up listening to the Foos and that I was really excited to see my first show; after a hundred offers to buy me a drink to celebrate, I already felt like a valued member of this community.
With such a monumental stadium appearance, Grohl and his squad of Fighters decided to change the support bands between their Friday and Saturday show. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Wolf Alice accompanied this date, with Starcrawler, Slaves, and The Kills taking the torch for the following Saturday show. Due to the disruptions on the Central Line, I unfortunately missed Frank Carter’s warmup set, though I was assured it was “the bomb” by a nice lady standing next to me. Wolf Alice stormed the stage to really fire up the crowd – “wow! She sounds like an angel!” was not what I was expecting to hear as Ellie Roswell screeched fiercely into the microphone. At the end of her set, in a moment that I can only describe as ‘pretty punk rock’, Roswell jumped from the stage (a good three meters) in order to shake hands and embrace her screaming fans in the front row. Wolf Alice have come miles in the past year – when we interviewed them last August, drummer Joel Amey told us that they were preparing for the “biggest thing we’ve done as a band”, namely selling out the Alexander Palace – that only has a capacity just over 10,000. It’s evident that Wolf Alice have finally received the praise that they really deserve.
With Roswell diving from the stage, the wait for Foo began in earnest. The atmosphere was electric, and you could sense the excitement in every single person there that day. Every small movement on the stage would lead to an eruption of screams, whistles, and cheers.
Then, they arrived. And, despite journalistic worry, Dave Grohl has certainly not lost his voice – his bite, and his bark, are just as ferocious as ever. Storming onto the stage with All My Life before bursting into classic hits Learn to Fly and The Pretender, the crowd were elated, and THAT is how you start a show. Still, we should expect nothing less from the world’s greatest living rock stars.
Taking a minute to be humble, Grohl reflects on his life, his passions, and his utmost gratitude for the life he’s made, with drummer Taylor Hawkins chiming in that if it weren’t for the Foo Fighters, he’d “probably still be delivering pizzas. Or worse, be a plumber.”
With a pause, Grohl began to introduce each member of the band, and ensuring that they get a respectable amount of praise (“Y’all, he’s given up his evening to play for you guys. FUCKING SCREAM!”) With these introductions came a small solo from each member; lead guitarist Chris Shiflett performed a rendition of Under My Wheels (Alice Cooper), pianist Rami Jaffee bursting out Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division) before slowing down into the slow, melodic chords of Imagine (John Lennon). At this time, Grohl becomes intimate with the audience; “I can’t imagine a better song to sing with you all, right here, right now”. To the tune of Imagine, Grohl sings a ballad-ized version of Jump (Van Halen). Pat Smear burst into Blitzkrieg Bop (The Ramones), with bassist Nate Mendel and Hawkins complete the interlude with a cover of Under Pressure (Queen) with Hawkins on vocals, and Grohl returning to his roots behind the drumkit.
Foo Fighters set the stadium on fire that night. With countless Grammys and other awards, and an undying reputation as the world’s greatest rockers, they need no additional praise from me. If you’ve ever considered seeing the Foo Fighters, absolutely do it. Their concerts are palpable, intimate, and all around brilliant.