“THAT’s a good ****in’ song, I wish I wrote it,” hollered Dave Grohl after what ended up being the post-gig talking point. Introducing the band with a piece of music here and there for each member, he paid tribute to fellow guitarist Pat Smear with practically a full cover of Molly’s Lips by Glasgow group the Vaselines.
This is significant, of course, because the Vaselines were much loved by Grohl’s former Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain, and Molly’s Lips went on to be associated internationally with Nirvana (for whom Smear played tour guitar) when it was recorded by them.
This was the first time the Foo Fighters had played the song in their 21-year existence, and it both provided a frantic, punky nostalgia trip and pointed in bold lettering to what makes the Foo Fighters so essentially different to Nirvana. Beyond the simple and unlikely pleasure of hearing this song in a stadium setting, the association brings home that the Foos are a big, primary-colour rock ‘n’ roll band, without the edge of Grohl’s previous project.
Which is fair enough; the Foo Fighters have never claimed to be holders of the grunge flame, and as far as dead simple but perfectly well executed beer-‘n’-a-hotdog stadium shows go, this one was high in entertainment value. Of course, it came three months later than planned following an initial cancellation when Grohl fell off a stage and snapped his leg earlier this year. He appeared here on an elaborate neon interpretation of Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne, leg raised and in a protective boot, guitar on his lap.
Such energy was created in the music that the novelty of his situation had worn off after a searing opening trio of All My Life, Times Like These and Learn to Fly. What followed was a straight, 22-song barrage of hits and fan favourites, with nice little twists added here and there. The band intro section also included a little of Big Country’s In a Big Country, while Outside descended into an electric interpretation of the extended breakdown from Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, with Grohl scraping his guitar strings over his protective boot.
There was some Spinal Tap-style amusement in watching his motorised throne crawl out to the end of the catwalk, but then Grohl has never been a guy who seems like he takes what he does too seriously. Most of his show was big, fun, not too dumb and noisy as hell, and its crescendo of hits was lengthy, from Breakout to This is a Call, Best of You and Everlong’s yearning finale. A fantastic crowd played a part: “you guys need to go to shows in other countries,” yelled Grohl, “you’ll come back very ****in’ proud of yourselves.”