October 25, 1997 16:13

THIS IS A BALL!

[B]SYLVIA PATTERSON[/I] watches Dave Grohl travel back to in time... Doctor Foo, anyone?

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Foo Fighters

London Brixton Academy

With the sense of drama inherent in a man who once thumped the tubs for the erstwhile biggest band in the world, it's to the theme tune of The Dambusters that the lights descend on Dave Grohl, once again 'slaying' the skins in a grinsome two-drummer fiesta. Even better than this, resident Foo sticksmith Taylor Hawkins - phwoar, eh, gurls (and blokes with good taste)? - already has his shirt off. Rawk'n'drool! Two years of touring and on this, the day after yet another rock'n'roll spirit is snuffed out too young in a howl of media controversy, 'our' David is still frothing an almighty 'pthrthrtht!!' to the Goliath of rawk life's miseries and winding his soul-clock ever backwards to about, oooh, 11.

'This Is A Call' is still a classic, all gustoriffic abandon about 'innocence!' and the black-togged Dave Grohl's legs, once confined to the stool, are two twirly testaments to the will to just keep on livin'. As you would if you wrote tunes like 'Monkey Wrench', here whisking up a sing-a-ling hoo-hah not seen since The Ramones last boinged these very boards asunder. "We're gonna play some new songs too!" shouts Dave youngly, and something called 'Hey Johnny Park!' (or something thereabouts) bounces around the big, slopey building while a backdrop ignites possibly in remembrance of Pat Smear and his legendary shirtwear'n'shiny shoe ensembles (replaced by old pal Franz who does not wear stilettos - curses).

Such is the buoyant zeal of the Foos in action, half the time no-one knows what the bleedin' ear's going on. Did Dave really just say backstage was on fire? What was he hooting about in his lengthy speech about Liam Gallagher, one which is greeted, intriguingly enough, with a unanimous "Boooooo!!!"? "He came to see us! blithers Dave, obliviously, "and said, 'You'd only played for ten minutes and already played 12 songs!' We like 'em short'n'sweet, just like Buddy Holly..." And there follows a series of 20-second songs including a cover of something by Muddy Waters (ten seconds of fiery bedlam, etc).

The surfers, too, are in hospitalisation fettle. Dave's springy silhouette is blocked out by the inevitable vertical bootwear flying through the sky to 'My Poor Brain', as the last-standing men of US punk-pop euphoria speed through the comfortingly familiar sounds of what's come to be known as the fun-sized version of Nirvana with added Lemonheads harmonised hair-flung pop-tuned loveliness despite Dave Grohl's current big bad rawk voice (or perhaps he's pummelled his tonsils into sand which may explain the huge and stringy phlegm-balls shooting from his throat and arcing through the air to connect mid-flight with a wayward Timberland. "Look, Mum, a souvenir!" Mum: "That's nice, dear!").

"Foos! Foos! Foos!" honks Brixton anyway and they sprint back into position as the long-forgotten, bloody terrifying sound of Killing Joke's 'Requiem' floods the senses and proves the Foos as the ultimate fans we've always known they were; ie, they play homage to the time when beautiful young men in skirts made of surgical bandages walked the earth and 'alternative' pop stars called Jaz were truly mad and invented their own language and pretended to be the Devil and went to Iceland to live in a coal scuttle, etc. Several thousand hands blast the air to the skree of "Da! Reh! Kwee! Eh-hem! Daaargh!!" and, right now, Dave Grohl looks around seven years old. Which is precisely as it should be. The Foo Fighters are not with us to change the world, they're here to celebrate what's left of it and thus they will probably live forever. No other form or requiem required here, then.

Sylvia Patterson

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