Dave and the Foo Fighters retain the mantle of Greatest Stadium Rock Band In The World with ease at AAMI Park on Friday 2 December.
For those who saw the Foo Fighters documentary Back And Forth, it’s hard to fathom that they were once merely positioned as “drummer from Nirvana’s side project and early afternoon festival filler”. Tonight, like the last time I saw them five years ago, Dave, Nate, Taylor and Chris (and this time, Pat) effortlessly command the attention of tens of thousands of people.
Third things first, we managed to catch a whole set from Jack Black’s acoustic metal project Tenacious D. While the Foos were gracious enough to include Brisbane’s DZ Deathrays and Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up on the bill, they were granted brief, early sets.
The ‘D got the whole stage, but their Satan-worshipping metal satire didn’t quite catch in the daylight hours. That said, their cult hit ‘Tribute’ went down a treat with the swelling crowd, and Black’s stony face (and briefly-exposed gut) sold the histrionic hard rock homage.
Sunset and the main event: Dave and the boys burst out with an explosive ‘All My Life’ and ram through another three tunes before properly introducing themselves. Not that they needed to, as Grohl galloped to each side of the stage rallying the crowd, and charged up a runway that split the GA area up to the very centre of the stadium.
From then, it was hit after favourite after hit. New album Wasting Light got enough of an airing, but Grohl’s songwriting makes even newer songs sound as familiar as the classics. The main set centred around ‘Stacked Actors’ and a corny, amusing guitar duel between Shiflett on stage and Grohl atop a riser in the middle of the crowd (something they also did five years ago).
In keeping with the all-raw aesthetic of the Wasting Light sessions, Grohl grumped about computerised music and encouraged the lumpen rock proletariat to grab instruments and start their own band, just as a noxious gust of pot wafts over the crowd. It’s getting more classic rock by the second, topped off by a stadium-wide Happy Birthday for Nate and a rogue fan who scrambled onto the concourse for a hug from an ebullient Grohl.
It was a gargantuan set – two and a half hours and 22 songs – with much exhorting from Dave that “we’ll rock until they kick us off!”, although we can safely assume the choreography is timed to the second. After polishing off a triumphant ‘Best Of You’, the band depart and appear from backstage in night-vision on the stage screens to perform an elaborate pantomime debating how many more songs they’ll come back for.
The roars were enough to get another handful, beginning acoustically and finishing off with a surging rendition of ‘Everlong’ to a crowd that surely had to be exhausted by the duration of the set. But no complaints. It was nothing if not satisfying, and even granted us time to go grab another beer knowing that if we miss one classic, there are plenty more to come.
In fact, while the Foo Fighters and particularly the Grohl Rock Machine know how to rile the crowd, it’s the sheer volume of memorable tunes, across seven albums, that would keep even casual fans singing along at top volume. And that’s what has elevated them to the status they enjoy, and to create a show that anyone else would too. It’s almost too easy.