Foo Fighters review: Grohl & Co live up to high expectations

One of music’s more affable, often flat-out hilarious frontmen in Dave Grohl. Photo: James BrickwoodFoo Fighters

ANZ Stadium, January 27

Reviewed by George Palathingal


It has been noted before that American rock titans Foo Fighters might be incapable of giving a bad show.

They’ve been pretty consistent with their output for nearly a quarter of a century, with at least a couple of enormous tunes coming with every album, so they have plenty of songs from which to choose. They’ve been touring long enough to have honed their craft as a live unit to a formidable standard.

Plus, of course, they have one of music’s more affable, often flat-out hilarious frontmen in Dave Grohl.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Photo: James Brickwood

Sure enough, the band explodes out of the blocks with a dizzying barrage of anthems that forms perhapsthe best start to a rock concert you’ll see.

The riotous roll of their latest song built for stadiums,Run, heads straight into the meaty guitar riffery ofAll My Life, Grohl screeching with such larynx-shredding intensity you wonder how he’ll make it through the first 10 minutes, let alone an entire tour.

The dazzling opening continues with the irresistibleLearn to FlyandThe Pretenderbefore another tune from last year’sConcrete and Gold,The Sky Is a Neighbourhood, holds its own in such exalted modern-rock-classic company with its blistering, seedy stomp.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Photo: James Brickwood

Then, however, things take an unexpected turn.

Grohl had warned us that there would be lots of jamming on this night but by extending the already underwhelmingRopeinto a 10-minute snoozefest complete with drum solo, the realisation dawns that this is going to be a different kind of Foo Fighters experience; maybe even that unthinkable bad gig.

What is confirmed for longer subsequent stretches of the show than you’d hope is that on this tour, this group of ultimate crowd pleasers isputting their own enjoyment before their audience’s.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters play Sydney at ANZ Stadium, Homebush Sydney. Photo: James Brickwood

This may not sound unreasonable but, for all Grohl’s casual boasts of three-hour sets, you can see in the relatively static audience during, say,Let It Diethat a few track omissions and significantly less jamming might have made this evening even more fun for everyone.

But there’s plenty of that anyway. The band intros come with mini-covers of rock classics (the opening of Van Halen’sJumpfor keyboard player Rami Jaffee​, the Ramones’Blitzkrieg Bopfor guitarist Pat Smear, and more), while Grohl gives us an unparalleled thrill by playing the opening drum riff of his old band Nirvana’sSmells Like Teen Spiritduring a cameo behind the kit.

Poignant nods to the country we’re in come with Grohl’s gorgeous acoustic instrumentalThe Ballad of the Beaconsfield Minersand a scorching full-band tribute to the late Malcolm Young in AC/DC’sLet There Be Rock,while the audience’s spine-tingling backing vocals onBest of Youadd to an unforgettable climax.

The Foo Fighters, then: incapable of giving a bad show indeed.

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