Over the last twenty years, I have seen Foo Fighters many times: at Reading Festival as a teenager. In a Chicago baseball stadium. At a village hall in Frome when they announced their Glastonbury headline set. Never before though, have I seen Foo Fighters while sat in my pants, eating a pizza.
By Dave Grohl’s own admission, when the idea of livestreamed gigs first came to the fore, it was a hard no from him. In an impassioned essay for The Atlantic at the start of the pandemic, he wrote about the magic of playing live – the visceral relationship between band and audience, the memories you make sweating with someone in a crowd. Fast forward seven months and with this thing showing no signs of slowing down, it was time for a rethink.
“The most important thing right now is to bring a tiny bit of joy to people at home,” said Grohl on stage at The Roxy for the band’s first ever internet gig.
From the moment Foo Fighters arrive on stage – not realising the stream had already begun and having a little chit chat with the road crew – there’s a little awkwardness to move past. But rightly so! This is a band that for twenty-five years have played to rowdy, adoring crowds, so when stood in front of a handful of friends and colleagues and required to deliver the same energy and stage patter, you feel them squirm a little bit. But from the first song it’s clear: they’re on a mission to bring the party to living rooms around the world.
With their recently announced 10th album ‘Medicine At Midnight‘ on its way in February, the band could have used this show as an outing for their new material but instead they gave the people what they want: a greatest hits set spanning the last quarter of a century as a band.
From the opening bars of ‘All My Life’ to closer, ‘Everlong’, Foo Fighters demonstrated, for anyone who’d forgotten, just how extensive their back catalogue is. From the early tracks of their self-titled debut and ‘The Colour And The Shape’ to rockier outings from ‘One By One’ (‘Times Like These’, ‘All My Life’) and ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace’ (‘The Pretender’), this a group that have consistently put out anthemic rock ‘n’ roll. New song ‘Shame Shame’ is no exception, its groovy bars and new flavour slotting right in amongst the best-loved tracks of Foos past.
MVP is awarded to guitarist Pat Smear who, at 61 years old, has more energy than your teenage cousin’s garage punk band and has brought every ounce of it to an empty bar on the Sunset Strip. Dave’s 14-year-old daughter, Violet Grohl, appears on backing vocals, giving a cute little bow when Dad gives her a shout-out.
Grohl’s on-stage chatter really drives home what touring means to Foo Fighters. With a year of anniversary events planned, including a US tour in their first ever van, the pandemic has affected us all in different ways. While feeling sorry for the über successful rock band isn’t front of mind right now, we are reminded that live music is about connection. Just as us fans are getting something out of watching a show, so too are the artists, feeding off the crowd and their energy – the thing that just can’t be replicated on a live stream.
“We miss you all very much,” says Grohl as we approach the end of the show, a little sorrow in his voice. “We hope that we can see you again soon. I Know we will. And fuck, dude, when we do this again with everybody, that shit’s gonna be good.”
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