Foo Fighters opened their three-date run of English shows with a blistering gig at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium last night (19th June).
Having played a series of festivals and stadiums across mainland Europe throughout June, the sextet were on sublime form from the moment Dave Grohl ran onto the stage clutching his custom Pelham Blue Gibson guitar – somewhat aptly in Manchester City colours – and, like an aural adrenaline injection, they tore into high-octane opener ‘All My Life’.
Not taking their foot off the gas for a second, the Foos dispatched storming renditions of ‘Learn To Fly’, ‘The Pretender’ and a brilliant ‘The Sky Is a Neighbourhood’ (already a bona fide Foos classic) as circle pits peppered the crowd like swirling tornados.
Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl © REX/Shutterstock
As always, consummate frontman Dave was a constant livewire throughout consuming every inch of the stage as he lavished every section of the 50,000 strong crowd with superlatives and dished out affectionate “motherf***ers” with casual abandon.
Perhaps summing Dave’s ethos up perfectly, before launching into a euphoric ‘My Hero’ from the front of the stage gangway, he duly told the audience: “Tonight I want you to go home thinking this is the best show you’ve seen in your life.”
A difficult feat to achieve, but Dave, a man with rock and roll running through his veins (“I like raw rock and roll, not computers and all that s***”, he jokes at one point), isn’t afraid to set the bar high and truly puts his all into every second of the two-and-a-half-hour show.
Foo Fighters' Pat Smear © REX/Shutterstock
Much more than just a Dave Grohl show, however, the legendary Pat Smear (“The only man who comes on stage and drinks champagne from the bottle,” laughs Dave as Pat glugs away), Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Taylor Hawkins and Rami Jaffee provide the solid musical backbone and are truly the engine of the band.
With his swimming shorts getting a hilarious tongue-lashing from Dave, Taylor himself grabbed his fair share of the limelight with his pummelling post-‘Rope’ drum solo and his now obligatory cover of Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ with Dave on the drums.
In two brief nods to the Manchester faithful, Nate played the bassline to Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – echoing Metallica’s Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett at Manchester Arena last October – during the band introductions segment, while Dave beckoned the crowd at one point “Are you mad for it?!”
Foo Fighters crowd at Etihad Stadium © Scott Colothan
Elsewhere, the night took a poignant turn when Dave dedicated ‘Walk’ to his 12-year-old daughter Violet with the cameras panning to her on the side of the stage, only for him to joke at the end “spoilt little s***.”
Quintessentially a greatest hits set with Dave decreeing “we’re going to play a song off every f***ing Foo Fighters record”, slow-building ‘Concrete and Gold’ track ‘Dirty Water' with its trio of female backing vocalists showcased another side of the Foo Fighter’s art and segued nicely into a searing ‘Run’ and a stratospheric ‘Best of You’.
After Dave and Taylor teased the audience on the screens from backstage, Foo Fighters returned to the stage for a phenomenal encore of ‘Times Like These’, ‘This is a Call’ and a life-affirming ‘Everlong’.
Foo Fighters at Etihad Stadium © Scott Colothan
Lauding his British fans, Dave said as the set neared its climax: “If it wasn’t for you f***ing people, if it wasn’t for this country, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The first time we headlined a f***ing festival was here, the first time we headlined a f***ing arena was here, the first time we headlined a f***ing stadium was here. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
“You’re a beautiful f***ing audience. Thank you for the last 23, 24 years.” Don’t worry Dave, the feeling is mutual.
With Andy Copping telling issue 8 of Planet Rock Magazine that Foo Fighters are among the bands still on his Download Festival wish list, the overriding feeling when exiting the Etihad Stadium tonight is that the Foos would truly be an inspired headliner on the hallowed turf of Donington Park next summer. Over to you, Andy.
Foo Fighters take a bow at Etihad Stadium © Scott Colothan
Foo Fighters’ set list in Manchester was as follows:
1. All My Life
2. Learn to Fly
3. The Pretender
4. The Sky Is a Neighborhood
6. Sunday Rain
7. My Hero
8. These Days
10. Under My Wheels (Alice Cooper cover)
11. Love Will Tear Us Apart / Imagine / Jump / Blitzkrieg Bop (band intros)
12. Under Pressure (Queen cover)
13. Monkey Wrench
16. Dirty Water
18. Best of You
19. Times Like These
20. This is a Call
Foo Fighters play London Stadium this coming Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd June.