Well, they finally made it. A day after their aborted Town Hall benefit show, Dave Grohl led his Foo Fighters through a two hour and 45 minute set at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium in front of tens of thousands of happy fans.
There was a sense of heightened anticipation as the time drew near for The Foo Fighters to take the stage. The band was forced to cancel their sold-out show on Friday at the Auckland Town Hall after their equipment truck flipped over on the way from Christchurch. The driver survived, but apparently the equipment did not and there was a last-minute plan to ship more gear from The States.
All seemed normal as the band manned their instruments at 8:15pm, Grohl out front, striding down the walkway into the heart of the stadium smiling and pointing with his powder blue guitar strapped on and ready for action.
They got right down to business with Something From Nothing a slow-building rocker from their latest album, Sonic Highways. By the end of the tune Grohl was screaming his heart out, running across the stage, his long hair flying in the air.
The Pretender, from 2007’s Echoes, Silence Patience And Grace followed and the audience was right into it, singing and clapping along. Dave made good use of the long ramp, shredding his guitar out in the middle of the crowd.
That tune segued directly into Learn To Fly, one of the band’s biggest hits from 1999.
“Here’s one for the old Foo Fighters’ fans”, Grohl announce as they proceeded to rock the audience with Breakout. This one got an extended treatment, with the band jamming and the crowd still singing.
After a triumphant My Hero…again accompanied by plenty of audience participation…Dave stopped to speak to his fans.
“”We have a beautiful love affair with your country”, he confessed. He then apologized for cancelling the Town Hall show…”our driver had a little accident”…then vowed to play songs from every album in the band’s catalogue…”I wanna play songs from records we haven’t even made yet!”, he enthused.
He then told everyone of his love for Christchurch and how he had spent five hours riding around the city on a bicycle before dedicating Big Me, a hit from the Foo’s first album, to the driver of their now-demolished truck.
It wasn’t all about Dave. The other members of the Foo Fighters made themselves heard as well, especially drummer Taylor Hawkins who sang Cold Day In The Clear Sun after the extended band intros that included playing snippets of tunes like Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust and Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water. Grohl told the crowd that he had received a text a day or two ago reminding him that it was twenty years since the first Foo Fighters show.
For the record, the band consisted of Chris Shiflett (guitar), Pat Smear (guitar), Nate Mendel (bass) along with Grohl and Hawkins. Session man and former Wallflower Rami Jaffee was on hand to play various keyboards.
After an extended version of Monkey Wrench, with a long, dreamy instrumental break of prog-rock proportions, Dave grabbed his acoustic guitar and headed to the mic set up at the ended of the runway.
Perched out in the middle of the stadium he played Skin And Bones, a B-side from 2005, with Rami chiming in on accordion.
Then came a playful interlude where Dave urged the crowd not to sing along to Wheels. It turned out the fans couldn’t resist the urge, even after Grohl threatened to take back his promise to return to the Town Hall.
Times Like These began as an acoustic solo number, but the band came crashing in dramatically mid-song. They were all set up on the runway, surrounded by fans.
This gave way to a set of covers. We got rocking versions of Kiss’s Detroit Rock City, Tom Sawyer, by Rush, AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock and Under Pressure, the Queen/Davie Bowie classic. Dave Grohl is no Geddy Lee, but he managed to get his way through Tom Sawyer alright and Taylor Hawkins joined in on vocals for Under Pressure.
With the band back on the main stage, it was time to head for the finishing line.
Unfortunately, Dave’s vocals seemed to get buried in the mix as they played All My Life and Outside and the energy in the stadium began to wane.
“We don’t do encores”, Dave reminded the crowd, “we play until we can’t anymore”.
We got four more songs…These Days, Generator and Best Of You before finishing with the obvious closer, 1997’s Everlong.
At a minute before 11:00pm it was all over.
With a set that long, it could easily turn into an endurance test, and there were times, during some of the extended instrumental breaks where it did seem like that, but thanks to Grohl’s cheery stage persona and the band’s cache of hook-laden classic rockers, the evening fairly sped by.
There were times when The Foo Fighters simply sound like a generic hard rock band, striking the moves and playing the part of 1970’s arena-rock gods, but there are plenty of other moments when the songs, the performances and the fans all come together to make for a genuinely exciting show.
By the sounds of it, Dave and the boys will be back, ready to give another masterclass on how to be an arena-rock band.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Flynn:
Foo Fighters set list:
- Something From Nothing
- The Pretender
- Learn To Fly
- My Hero
- Big Me
- Band Intros including Another One Bites The Dust & Smoke On The Water
- Cold Day In The Sun
- In The Clear
- Monkey Wrench
- Skin And Bones
- Times Like These
- Detroit Rock City
- Tom Sawyer
- Let There Be Rock
- Under Pressure
- All My Life
- These Days
- Best Of You
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