T In The Park, Sunday 10th July
So, you think you know what [a]Foo Fighters[/a] are about live? Well, yes you do, and that’s the whole point. As T In The Park rocks its final bells to [b]‘Everlong’[/b], and enjoyment rises above the clouds which are pissing rain on Balado, we are reminded of what [b]Dave Grohl[/b] said to us previously this evening, inside a backstage cabin labelled (and we are not joking), the [b]‘Rock Box’[/b]: “We learned how to be a live band in the UK. It just happened that way. Our first proper gig at Reading in 1995 on the side stage was one of the most important lessons we’ve ever had.” Dave’s learned a few other tricks at UK festivals as well: “Years ago when was a kid, I had sex with somebody under the stage while Iggy Pop was headlining Reading Festival. So that’s what I think of your festivals. They’re pretty fun!” Love ’em and leave ’em is the name of the game, then, and Grohl And The Gang make another ‘wham, bam, thank you ma’am’ escape after their theft of the summer tonight. Well, we say summer: after two days of mercy, the gods of weather decide on Sunday that [a]Blondie[/a], [a]Weezer[/a] and [a]Pulp[/a] deserve no mercy.
“The sunshine follows us around at a festival!” howls Grohl through those ridiculous teeth. “So if you want sunshine, just come see us!” The silly thing being, he does manage to hold off the damp deities for over 90 minutes, and they’re only dared into returning by Dave’s perhaps foolish promise to “play until we have to stop!” But despite the weather’s revenge, it is, at this point, simply impossible, unthinkable for a UK festival audience not to adore [a]Foo Fighters[/a]. Last weekend, with [b]‘Wasting Light’[/b] having proved the band once again worthy of the World’s Biggest Rock Band mantle, they tore through two headline shows at Milton Keynes Bowl, during which they smashed a new unmentionable into the region, despite having their children backstage.
And only in the world of this band could those same children mix among the likes of Bob Mould, Roger Taylor and – oh yeah – Alice Cooper, all of whom joined them onstage as if it was the most natural thing in the world. At Oxegen, with the end of their season in sight, Grohl and Chris Shiflett faced off on guitar like spatting lovers, the daddy declaring, “This is some commitment shit right now.” And here at T, the Foo Fighters’ touring ensemble roars its last for the five-minute breather Europe surely needs.
But yes, we know [a]Foo Fighters[/a]. Everyman crowdpleasers from birth to death, tonight we get everything we’ve learned to love them for: the eager and innocent early ones like [b]‘This Is A Call’[/b] and [b]‘My Hero’[/b]; the awkward-yet-now-favourite ones like [b]‘Times Like These’[/b] and [b]‘Breakout’[/b] – not to mention the nuclear-punk of [b]‘White Limo’[/b], the grunge-euphoria of [b]‘Arlandria’[/b] and the ‘what’s-done-is-done’ anthem [b]‘These Days’[/b]. And yes: it seems that Dave has finally learned that [b]‘Everlong’[/b] sounds much better as it was originally intended, with the whole band at full pelt, rather than him wanking it out alone as he has done for years. And it’s another one of those moments that reminds you that familiarity sounds a lot like ‘family’, and things that do your head in are also things you couldn’t live without, things like [i]The Apprentice[/i] and energy drinks and festivals themselves. And it’s in those moments when you realise how precious those things really are.
But enough soppiness: we will leave it to Mr Grohl himself to explain the significance of the festival. “I would rather go to a keg party in Springfield, Virginia than a keg party in Brooklyn, New York because you go to a keg party in Springfield, people are doing beer bongs and throwing hatchets at a tree. You go to one in Brooklyn and everyone looks like they’re in a fashion magazine. Here can feel a lot like the place where I grew up – you show up and you get money and you have a good drink.” Looking round at the crowd during the final howl of “If everything could ever feel this real forever”, it’s pretty clear everyone in this crowd agrees with his summation of the T spirit, and that no matter how many times you hear that song, that yes, everything could ever be that good. Again.