Music review: Foo Fighters deliver an emotional rock ’n’ roll spectacular
Approaching three decades as one of the alternative world’s most celebrated bands, Foo Fighters could almost patent the formula for a stadium rock show.
Foo Fighters managed to turn their Coopers Stadium show into an intimate performance for 20,000 fans. Photo: Samuel Phillips / supplied
US heavyweights Foo Fighters were last here in 2018 at the same venue, but it was a different band that took to the Coopers Stadium stage on the weekend – a little older and quite visibly still wounded after losing their long-time drummer Taylor Hawkins more than 18 months ago.
It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the touring world that the band were locked in to perform at the 2022 Adelaide 500 before Hawkins’ untimely death thwarted the chance for organisers to even announce they had secured the rockers to headline the event.
With that in mind, Dave Grohl and co had two albums of fresh material to debut to Adelaide from their 11-album catalogue.
This is where the formula comes into play for Grohl.
It’s not a case of shut up and play the hits; it’s two and a half hours of stories and a career-spanning set that encompasses said hits, alongside covers and deep cuts that manage to turn the stadium show into an intimate performance.
Opening with “All My Life”, Grohl, now 54, had his foot to the floor from the opening barre chord. There was barely time for the band to take a breath between songs as they launched straight into fresher cuts “No Son of Mine” and “Rescued” (which hit harder live), before teasing snippets of AC/DC and Black Sabbath.
”You like rock?” Grohl asked the 20,000-strong crowd.
“So do I.”
From then on, it was a masterclass of stadium showmanship – “The Pretender”, “Walk”, “Times Like These”, “Stacked Actors” and “Breakout” all followed in quick succession.
Grohl looked to be working overtime as he covered more ground on the stage, undoubtedly doing his best to fill the seemingly large hole left by the drummer’s passing. It wasn’t just Hawkins’ seemingly superhuman capabilities behind the kit that was noticeably absent, it was his infectious smile and relationship with Grohl.
Dedicating the tender “Aurora” to Hawkins, Grohl told a touching yet typically amusing story of the pair cycling around Adelaide, an adventure which resulted in Hawkins crashing into an elderly man and ruining his bike – ultimately paying him off with $100.
The aforementioned smile missing from the stage was replaced by nearly 20,000 of them looking back at the seasoned storyteller.
Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters’ new drummer, Josh Freese. Photo: Samuel Phillips / supplied
New drummer Josh Freese, regarded as one of the best in the business, put on a masterclass in rock drumming – a perfect fit for a band still putting on shows to rival bands half their age.
With a resume that includes Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails , Devo, The Offspring and Weezer, Freese’s drumming at times had many (including Grohl) looking to the back of the stage in awe.
Recruiting their long-time drum tech, Adelaide gal Fiona Jeans, to perform vocals on a cover of AC/DC’s “Big Balls”, Grohl took a breather to ensure he had plenty of gas left in the tank for a big finish worthy of his band’s 29-year career.
It’s hard to imagine Foo Fighters not concluding with a song like “Everlong”. It embodies the spirit of what made this band so enduring.
Frantic, iconic, anthemic and at times gentle, the closing strains of “Everlong” punctuated the band’s emotional rock ’n’ roll spectacular and a show Adelaide will not soon forget.
Foo Fighters played at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night as part of their Australian tour, which continues with shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
A show Adelaide will not soon forget: Foo Fighters at Coopers Stadium. Photo: Samuel Phillips / supplied