Anticipation had rang out over the UK for the return of the Foo Fighters. Planned to headline Glastonbury this year plus two dates originally scheduled for Wembley Stadium in June, fans were left disappointed at the sudden cancellation only a couple of days before the shows due to Mr Dave Grohl taking an accidental stage dive and breaking his leg. The new dates were announced shortly after, with an additional stop in Edinburgh. Tickets were available to those that had originally bought Wembley dates early, and so many fans were luckily going to get the chance to see the band.
With the mini festival vibe, 2 support acts were announced in advance. Originally Iggy Pop was only confirmed for the rescheduled dates, with Royal Blood being reconfirmed shortly before they were on stage at Reading Festival.
Royal Blood opened the proceedings with their drum and fuzz bass rock giving the Front of House a test. After trying my hardest to enjoy Royal Blood (at Reading Festival as well as support for Foo Fighters) the reality is I just can’t. They are Royal dud – painfully uninspired, lacklustre, repetitive rock. The two person act format has become so overplayed that it no longer sounds interesting, regardless of whether you’re special for using a bass. Side Note: Jeez, people always compare anything with 2 people to The White Stripes, but Silver Apples should be the comparison in truth. Either way, whether it is songs I know vaguely like Little Monsters or Figure it Out, or others I had forgotten about they overall failed to impress. A lot of the crowd applauded and were excited by Royal Blood; not for me. Lead singer ** was a bit too pompous and really enjoyed himself but without merit. The hype surrounding the band maybe soured expectations too. There are other similar acts that have a stronger mix of songs, such as Drenge. Figure It Out has a good riff and did stand out for me as a highlight. Finishing with Out Of The Black, with an extended Iron Man outro (identical set to Reading Festival out of interest) Royal Blood left the stage. Swiftly onto Mr Pop.
Iggy Pop for a lot of the younger crowd was a bemusing hour-long set. What made the set particularly odd was Iggy played arguably his 3 biggest songs (I Wanna Be Your Dog, The Passenger, Lust For Life) in a row from second to fourth. Iggy seemed excited to be performing, even if the crowd met his energy with muted icy reply at times. There were other big songs, Night Clubbing and Iggy’s cover of Real Wild Child. In truth, there was a lot to enjoy from Iggy’s set, and a lot to criticise. The songs varied far more than Royal Blood’s for a start. However, I definitely do not think many will go away with fond or poignant memories of the set. At an hour long though, it did wain thin especially being punk enough to play the most popular tracks so early on.
Luckily in August, by 8:20pm the sun had already started to set, which made it perfect for the start of the show where the lights would have the biggest impact. As shadowy figures were spotted behind the large Foo Fighters emblazoned curtain, the crowd began to cheer – we were off.
Armed with an arsenal of stadium sized hits, culminating with one of their biggest tracks Everlong, Foo Fighters came out blazing and full of energy. Spanning every album, the set was a mixture of mosh pit heavy tracks like; Monkey Wrench, The Pretender, and White Limo – to sing along anthems of Big Me, Walk, and Times Like These.
Palpable fervor led to a wave of rumours and speculation. Our group took to using the pre show songs as indication as to who to expect, and oddly we were almost correct when halfway through the set, Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Queen’s Roger Taylor joined Grohl and co for an energetic, fun, emotional rendition of Under Pressure. To say I was close to tears highlights the overwhelming majesty of the moment. Taylor played drums and sang whilst Jones provided keys. Before welcoming the two rock gods to the stage Grohl admitted they hadn’t actually planned the occurrence, it just happened by accident. He continued saying that this was a ‘super duper group’; hard to argue with.
Whilst Dave was restricted to his guitar and amplifier throne, he still danced and rocked as hard as anyone in that position could. Seeing the throne glide down the catwalk was hilarious and meant fans further back got a little closer to the action. Connecting with so many people lining up the bowl is a hard task, but one Foo Fighters pulled off. Dedicating Big Me to the London doctor that fixed his leg after the fall as well as lighting guy Dan, Dave got the audience to give Dan a light show using the audiences phones (in the modern age no more burning the ends of your fingers).
Scattered through the set were 3 tracks from the latest album Sonic Highways; Something From Nothing, Congregation, and Outside. Unfortunately, as someone who was disappointed with Sonic Highways (especially in comparison to Wasting Light) these were the low points of the set. It did mean getting to listen to them again in a different setting and seeing if they improve upon viewing. Something From Nothing does to an extent, but still fails to live up to the lowest moments of Wasting Light, although the slide guitar is a pleasant addition that doesn’t pop up too often in Foos songs, something I had overlooked a little from the album. Outside begins with a noisescape with the lights orange glow striking through the mass of smoke creating tension and stunning the audience.
Visually the show combines moving screens, rotating light heads but nothing too flashy or innovative. The backdrops and colours were well suited to the songs, and the large crowd facing LED spots were used to great effect. For example, during All My Life they would intermittently strobe a powerful red tinge into the golden circle, producing a very sudden red mist. Sound wise the show could have done with a little more attention to detail. There could have been some edge stage speakers for those towards the front to give the audience a little more clarity in the mids and highs, so from where we were stood the subs were exceptionally prominent. It mainly meant the 3 guitar parts smudged a little too much and so sometimes Chris’s solos or lead parts got lost in a distorted mess. Same with the keys, they struggled to be heard of the power of the bass and kit. During Something From Nothing there’s a good clavinet portion of the track that just went unnoticed. Vocals punched through consistently and well however, so spoken words or sang parts were audible. Nevertheless, that was from close range, further back could have been better as there were good delay towers around the venue.
Towards the end of the set were some crowd requests and rarer tracks including DOA, For All The Cows, and Aurora. Aurora was specifically dedicated to Rose in the front row, a fan who Dave always spots in the crowd, a very sweet thing for Dave to do, something that on this tour alone he has proved immensely. The final song was the belter Best Of You, with the crowd continuing to chant throughout and cause the band to stop playing for a little bit. Ending 20 minutes shy of 11pm, the crowd dispersed into an unfriendly system to get out of the dreaded Milton Keynes Bowl, and the band would return a day later for the second show.
- Monkey Wrench
- Learn to Fly
- Something From Nothing
- The Pretender
- Big Me (slow version)
- Band Introduction
- Eruption (Van Halen cover) (snippet during band introduction)
- I’m the One (Van Halen cover) (snippet during band introduction)
- Roundabout (Yes cover) (snippet during band introduction)
- Keyboard Solo (during band introduction)
- God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols cover) (snippet during band introduction)
- Cold Day in the Sun
- Under Pressure
- All My Life
- Times Like These
- These Days
- White Limo
- This Is a Call
- For All the Cows
- Best of You
(My Hero was on the setlist but not played)
Whilst not the absolute ideal setting of the show, what with Mr Grohl unable to kick the house down the event was prodigious and entertaining regardless. Dave and co were engaging with the band, Taylor performed excellent vocals too on a few tracks (and did a Freddie Mercury vocal warm up), a few nice surprises and touching crowd moments. Until next time Foos, we’ll be waiting.
Here’s one of the videos I took from that night, incomplete clip of Under Pressure.