Here’s what I’ve learned about Foo Fighters; you’re never going to get a bad show. You’re going to get a great show or an amazing show. Thursday August 13 in Calgary was the latter. Everybody I talked to was in agreement with all the newspaper critics; that was the best show of the year so far in Calgary, and will likely be the best show of the year when all is said and done. It was also in everyone’s top 3 or 5 of all time.
Even when he falls off stage and breaks his leg, Dave Grohl is a better entertainer than any other musician I can think of. He always appears to be genuinely happy and grateful to be wherever he is, playing music for whoever wants to listen. It’s such an endearing trait, and it goes a long way to explaining why he’s well on his way to being the King of All Media (if he hasn’t already been crowned).
As I’ve previously stated, he’s such a charismatic guy that it’s easy to forget what got him to his current lofty status in the first place. He is a kick-ass rock and roll musician, and he has surrounded himself with five equally kick-ass musicians in Rami Jaffee, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, and Taylor Hawkins. Especially Taylor Hawkins. That guy is every bit Grohl’s equal, and that’s saying something. Their version of Under Pressure with Taylor singing the Freddie parts and Dave singing the Bowie parts was something not many other bands could contemplate pulling off.
We all know that concerts are highly scripted and rehearsed and rely on time-tested cliché’s like “You guys are WAY louder than (insert rival city here)”. Foo Fighters are not above using those tactics, but there’s an undercurrent of honesty in Dave’s between-song patter that makes you really believe you’re experiencing a one-of-a-kind show. He’s such a great guy…he couldn’t possibly be lying. It feeds on itself throughout the show. He says something “real”, we react enthusiastically, he gets more pumped up, we do too, and on it goes for 2.5 or 3 hours.
Despite the fact that the show is so highly polished it’s almost blinding, you never know what’s going to happen at a Foo concert. They’re so good, so experienced, so professional, that they can take spur-of-the-moment detours in the middle of a concert without interrupting the flow. Bringing up audience members is always risky because there’s a good chance they could be drunk or awful or crazy, but it’s common at Foo Fighters shows (I’ve posted a three recent examples at the bottom of this page). However it seems like Dave enjoys that element of the unknown. I get the feeling that even if things went sideways, he’d laugh it off and move along.
Another hallmark of Foo Fighters tours is that they always have fantastic opening acts like Mariachi El Bronx, Motörhead, Biffy Clyro, Kaiser Chiefs, Iggy Pop, and The Strypes. This time around was no exception with the utterly fantastic Royal Blood kicking things off.
We enjoyed them so much, we bought their t-shirt instead of (yet another) Foo Fighters shirt. They earned it.
Anyway…I’ve been going to rock concerts since the late 70’s. I’ve seen literally hundreds of shows, and I’m ready to say Foo Fighters with Royal Blood was certainly in the top 3 for me (#1 was Foo Fighters with Motörhead and Biffy Clyro in Missoula, #2 was Van Halen’s 1984 tour). Simply stellar performances from start to finish for both bands.
Here’s some footage I shot with my iPhone 6. I’m happy enough with the audio quality, but the video is a bit shaky because I had to zoom all the way in.
Here are three recent interactions with audience members that undoubtedly were high points in these people’s lives, with the added bonus of making the show better for everyone else in the crowd…
Mitch the birthday Boy in Toronto, July 9
Brian in Edmonton, August 12
Anthony in Colorado, August 16
All along, all I’ve really wanted to be is a writer. So now I tell people that’s what I am, even though I haven’t earned a dime being a writer.
That being said, I’ll confess that once a day, every day, I wish I was still a musician. That was the one time in my life when I was cool.