“Is someone going to cue us when we’re actually on camera,” Dave Grohl asks as he takes to the stage for the first full Foo Fighters show of the year. Uh, Dave, you’re already live to a global audience. Turns out even the most seasoned of live musicians are struggling to adapt to this new normal.
Tonight’s broadcast, live from Los Angeles’ The Roxy – typically a 500-capacity venue – is a confident step forward for a band who seemed to have conquered everything. “When everyone started doing livestreams, I thought, ‘Fuck that shit’,” says Grohl. Eight months down the line, things have changed: “I realised the most important thing right now is bringing a little joy and happiness.” Sticking to the hits (and 2017’s ‘Make It Right’), this 90-minute set sees Foo Fighters at their rip-roaring, direct best.
There’s no virtual reality, no real production beyond The Roxy’s house lights, and the closest thing to a gimmick is the band’s ‘Can Cam, a Go-Pro stuck to a beer that walks us around the venue before the show, but even that’s quickly discarded as soon as the music begins. With anthems like these, though, who needs anything else?
The infectious energy of ‘The Pretender’ translates perfectly down the camera, even if, as Grohl says, “it’s not the same because usually I sing this one with you”. ‘My Hero’ still hits you squarely in the heart while the moody blues of ‘Sky Is A Neighborhood’ and the aching ‘Times Like These’ both shine with all six members of the band in the spotlight. This evening, Foo Fighters are a band unleashed. That buoyant freedom extends to what we hear from their upcoming new album as well.
The frontman recently told NME that 10th record ‘Medicine to Midnight’ is “really designed to be that Saturday night party album”. Tonight, every groove-laden new riff backs up that claim. ‘Holding Poison’ (an all-guns-blazing rampage of epic cinema) and ‘No Son of Mine’ (a twitching, hip-shaking affair) find the band at their most raucous. New single ‘Shame, Shame’ is the outlier, a stuttering pop-facing track on which the band resist guitar-heavy breakdowns. Live, though, accompanied by four backing singers (one of whom is Groh’s daughter 14-year-old Violet), it’s a welcome-change of pace from the relentless rock.
After flirting heavily with the new, the band still rely on their now-familiar closers ‘Best Of You’ and ‘Everlong’. With so much uncertainty around, a little predictability is no bad thing – especially when it comes via two of the most powerful anthems of the past 20 years. “If everyone looks out for the other guy, shows a little compassion, a little consideration, we’ll get together soon,” says Grohl, still championing community from an empty venue.